Dozens of kayakers float out of Albany toward Bainbridge

One of 150 Paddle Georgia kayakers cruises towards a landing in North Mitchell County Monday.

One of 150 Paddle Georgia kayakers cruises towards a landing in North Mitchell County Monday.

ALBANY, Ga. -- After three days floating down the Flint River's Dougherty County section, more than 100 intrepid kayakers have started the last leg of their journey heading towards Lake Seminole.

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Ultimately, the 2013 Paddle Georgia trip will allow kayakers a chance to travel down the river from Warwick to Bainbridge; taking in all of the nature they can find in between.

"We've had a great first three days of Paddle Georgia," April Ingle, executive director of the Georgia River Network said. "Every day everyone comes off the river talking about how much fun they've had and what all they've seen and how beautiful the river is."

The goal of the trip is as much educational as it is recreational, with kayakers learning about the southern leg of the Flint River; its ecosystem and the communities along the river, Ingle said.

"Our goal at the Georgia River Network is to protect, restore and enjoy Georgia's rivers so we not only work to make sure that we have clean, healthy rivers, we work to empower people in communities protect and keep their rivers healthy and to enjoy the rivers as well."

Three days in, it's been a hot but exciting trek, some kayakers said.

Ingle also praised the hospitality of the people of Albany but also the staff at Chehaw, where the group rallied and spent the night, and noted how clean the Dougherty section of river was.

"Today was trash pick up day and while we don't know how much we were able to pick up, I can say that this section of river has been pretty clean, which is kind of rare," Ingle said.

The group headed to Newton before finishing in Bainbridge.

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.