Paddle Georgia weeklong Flint River journey

ALBANY, Ga. -- A virtual navy of canoes and kayaks is set to journey down the Flint River as a part of Paddle Georgia's ninth weeklong river trip.


Joe Bellacomo

Madison Barksdale paddles a kayak in the Flint River during a summer outing. Hundreds will paddle more than 100 miles of the lower Flint as a part of Paddle Georgia 2013 beginning Saturday.

According to a release by the Georgia River Network, more than 350 hardy souls will traverse some 106 miles of the lower Flint Saturday through next Friday as a part of Paddle Georgia 2013. GRN officials say the paddlers will launch near the Lake Blackshear dam outside Warwick, travel through Albany and end their journey at Bainbridge and the backwaters of Lake Seminole.

Participants will coast beneath ancient limestone bluffs, cool off in blue hole springs and are expected to witness wildlife such as alligators, otters and bald eagles in their natural habitat. The GRN release states that after navigating the river each day, paddlers will spend their nights camped at nearby facilities such as local high schools.

The event includes educational programs on the river's cultural and natural history, tours of facilities and historic sites located nearby. Officials say paddlers will participate in a reasearch program by helping to collect chemical and biological data for a snapshot of the river's current health.

According to Paddle Georgia, during the eight previous years of the event, organizers have guided more than 2,400 paddlers down more than 800 miles of Georgia waterways, including trips on the Chattahoochee, Etowah, Ocmulgee, Flint, Coosawattee, Oostanaula, Savannah and Altamaha rivers, generating more than $140,000 for river protection in the state. A portion of funds from this year's event will benefit Flint Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization working to protect the Flint River, officials say.