Georgia River Network, creator of Paddle Georgia, an annual week-long summer canoe/kayak camping adventure, will return to the Flint River this October for its fifth edition of Paddle Georgia Fall Float on the Flint.

Rome resident Tony Sommer is excited to try out a new kayak he bought, saying he has participated in three Paddle Georgia events and encouraged other locals to sign up.

"They've all been great," he said. "Everything is so well organized and it's great to see so many people of all ages and backgrounds get together on the river to have a good time."

The three-day trip offers the chance to paddle, camp and socialize while enjoying the outdoors and learning about the river.

"You get out there on the water and it's a whole new world," Sommer said. "It's so peaceful and it helps me stay fit."

Sommer said before his first paddle event he was afraid that a multi-day paddle might be too strenuous. But soon discovered that the pace of the paddle and other activities make it easy on everyone.

"You do about 10 to 14 miles per day and it's not difficult at all," he said. "You can do an easy paddle stroke with a little help from the current. If you're in a group, that time passes quickly."

The paddle stops to camp at the end of the day, and participants get to eat and socialize and relax before the next day's paddle.

"October's the perfect time for it too," Sommer added. "And Joe Cook is so dedicated to making these trips an amazing experience for everyone."

The event is set for Oct. 6-8, charting a course from Baconton, just downstream from Albany, to near Bainbridge.

Online registration is now open at www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia/fallfloat.html

Registration fees are $325 for adults, $280 for children 8-17 and $140 for children 7 and younger. Fees include six catered meals, camping facilities with restrooms and showers, shuttle service, an event t-shirt and more.

To ensure not only a safe Fall Float, but also better information for all river users all year long, Flint Riverkeeper began weekly monitoring of bacterial levels on the lower Flint, from Albany downstream, in mid-July. The organization plans to continue the monitoring for the foreseeable future including the days leading up to Fall Float and during the journey to provide information about pollution levels to participants.

“This is not a problem that is unique to the Flint,” said Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia Coordinator. “It’s a consideration on virtually every river in the state. Part of the purpose of Georgia River Network’s paddle trips is to bring attention to these problems and encourage improvements so that all our rivers are free from pollution 365 days a year.”

This trip highlights one of the most scenic sections of the river, featuring lively shoals, limestone bluffs and beautiful blue hole springs.

In addition to traveling about 16 miles on the river each day, participants will have the opportunity to learn about issues impacting the Flint, take part in water testing programs with Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and learn about the river’s unique fishes and mussels from biologists and scientists. The group will camp for three nights at Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat, a campground located on the river in Newton

The trip is suitable for novice paddlers as well as experienced paddlers. Paddlers range in age from four to 84, with many families participating. In 2017, more than 120 paddlers made the three-day Columbus Day weekend journey.

Fall Float on the Flint is an offshoot of Georgia River Network’s annual 7-day summer voyage that takes place on a different river each year. Since its inception in 2005, GRN’s Paddle Georgia trips have guided more than 4300 people down 14 different Georgia rivers while raising more than $400,000 for river protection.

Fall Float on the Flint serves as a fundraiser for GRN and Flint Riverkeeper.

Georgia River Network is a non-profit 501c3 organization working to ensure a clean water legacy by engaging and empowering Georgians to protect and restore our rivers from the mountains to the coast. Flint Riverkeeper is a 501c3 organization working to restore and preserve the habitat, water quality and flow of the Flint River for the benefit of current and future generations and dependent wildlife.

Those interested in participating can get more information at the Paddle Georgia website at www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia or by contacting Joe Cook at 706-409-0128or joecookpg@gmail.com.