Paddle Georgia sends 400+ down Chattahoochee

(WXIA) -- How does this sound for a summer vacation? The sun is blazing down on your face, your heart is pumping and your only transportation on this trip is a boat that you row yourself.

That's what the members of Paddle Georgia do to raise awareness about Georgia's waterways.

More than 400 canoers and kayakers will pass through Atlanta on a week-long journey across more than 100 miles of water.

They found a secret along the Chattahoochee River.

"My favorite part is just floating down the river, the peace and quiet," said Aggie Kalder.

Kit Carlson wrote us about Paddle Georgia, asking 11Alive to do a story on the group's 10th anniversary tour.

"It seemed to me that it made sense to let the people of Atlanta know the changes to the river that runs through Atlanta," he said,

"People are coming back to the section of river that was once thought of as polluted and written off," said organizer Joe Cook.

This stretch of the Chattahoochee was once a dumping ground for pollutants, but not now after a cleanup years in the making.

"People still saw it as this polluted cesspool that you didn't want to be around, but now what we're seeing ten years later is the health of the river has improved," Cook said.

The trip is designed to send the 400+ members back to their "land life" as an honorary "River Ambassador" who will share what they saw on the trip with others.

A canoe ride with Paddle Georgia reveals a water wonderland just a few minutes from Midtown.

"We're right in downtown Atlanta and we wouldn't even notice it," said Joey Lydon.

For 10 years Lydon and his wife were a part of the group's week-long summer adventure.

"We actually met here on this trip," he revealed.

They fell in love with each other... and with the river. That is exactly what Paddle Georgia is all about.

"We want them to protect rivers and the best way to do that is to get them to have a relationship with the river and you cant have a relationship with anything unless you spend time with it," Cook said.

And they put in the miles from Suwannee to Franklin, about a dozen a day for days.

A lot of people wouldn't expect that from 84 year old Aggie Kalder.

"It's fun, enjoyable. Life's too short to let it get by," she said.


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