Update 2019-07-05:: Some WWALS videos on YouTube.
The first day of #PaddleGA2019 was a fun day, with a confluence, greetings by VIPs, creeks, small rapids, a limpkin, Valdosta’s notorious Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall, one bad water quality reading (not there), swimming, an even more notorious fracked methane pipeline, and Spook Bridge, with a pet deer across the river. Thanks to The Langdale Company for that takeout and the Port-A-Potty location, and thanks to the Battery Source for the loan of the golf cart to WWALS.
Here’s Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network Water Trail coordinator, getting her orange kayak in the water.
Somebody was flying a drone.
Maybe we’ll see his videos.
Took a while for everyone to pile into the water at Troupville Boat Ramp
Bret Wagenhorst was the Trip Naturalist the first day. He is a font of knowledge about the plants and animals of the rivers.
John S. Quarterman
Notice the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) signs on the post in the background.
Gwyneth Moody on behalf of Paddle Georgia greeted Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter, Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll (delegate of Mayor John Gayle), and Valdosta Historical Society Director Don Davis.
Some people went upstream a bit on the Withlacoochee River.
Thanks to the Battery Source of Valdosta for the weekend rental of the golf cart. For that donation the Battery Source is a sponsor of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, coming up August 24, 2019, in Valdosta. Thanks to Katherine Ball for rustling up the golf cart. Thanks to WWALS members Trudy and Conn Cole for helping, including by driving the golf cart. The previous day, WWALS Board Member Shirley Kokidko was there early,
Onwards past the Little River Confluence down the Withlacoochee River.
This little creek appears to come out of Scruggs Pond in Brooks County.
The limpkin watched from the bank, flew ahead, watched from the other bank, etc.
The famous $100 million waterfall, Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outfall, was very visible.
Paddlers were swimming in the river by Spring Branch.
The fish samplers found many species.
Of course there was a water cannon.
The water had come up so much since Joe Cook had to drag his boat 17 times on June 5th that there were only minor rapids at the numerous shoals.
The Port-A-Potty, planted thanks to permission from The Langdale Company, was popular.
It was planted the previous day by Scott Hudgins of Outhouse Port-A-Potties. We only got stuck in the sandy woods roads once.
Here’s Joe Cook returning down Millrace Creek.
I’m calling this one Rotten Egg Branch.
There were more creeks, and swimmers didn’t wait for creeks.
Within sight of the US 84 bridge, you can see here on the left bank a sign of the notorious Sabal Trail 36-inch high-pressure fracked methane pipeline that leaked drilling fluid up into the Withlacoochee River here.
The only slight problem shoal was just above US 84.
As I should have known from previous experience, keep left, and sail right through.
Past the US 84 highway bridge and the CSX Railroad bridge…
Around the bend appears Spook Bridge.
Thanks to The Langdale Company of Valdosta, Georgia, WWALS obtained permission for Paddle Georgia to take out just below Spook Bridge.
Gretchen looks rested, since she did not paddle that day; she paddled the next day.
From Spook Bridge, you can see boats taking out on the left bank in Lowndes County while Joe Cook photographs a pet deer on the right bank in Brooks County.
The pet deer is wearing a collar in the upper right of this picture.
There was a long walk up to the road, but fortunately, thanks to the Battery Source for the golf cart, and WWALS member Steve Miller for charging, delivering, and driving it, tired paddlers could hitch a ride for free.
And on the busses to Grassy Pond for the evening. The previous day, WWALS members Dave Hetzel and Bobby and Monica McKenzie helped with registration there.
#PaddleGA2019 to be continued in later posts.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!