By the time Paddle Georgia 2010 reaches its conclusion Friday in downtown Augusta, more than 300 participants in kayaks and canoes will have traveled 82 miles through the Broad and Savannah rivers and Thurmond Lake.
What might be a grueling trip, especially during a particularly hot June, will be made more bearable, event coordinator Joe Cook said, because of the waterways.
"There's air conditioning built in," Cook said. "If you get too hot, you can just jump in. ... But I'm sure folks are going to be worn out at the end of it. It's not a marathon, but it's a challenge to be out in the sun that long."
Georgia River Network's annual event, in its sixth year, started Friday on the Broad River near Royston. Each day, participants put in their kayaks and canoes in the morning, paddle a section, then exit the waterway in the afternoon before camping at a predetermined location.
Each night, the event features a program, such as a street party Monday in Elberton and closing festivities, planned for Friday at the Savannah Riverkeeper site in Augusta.
Participants traversed sections of the Broad River until they reached Thurmond Lake on Tuesday. After taking out their kayaks and canoes at Hesters Ferry Campground at the today, the paddlers will camp tonight at Greenbrier High School.
On Thursday, they will put in at Thurmond Dam, get to Stevens Creek Dam, carry their kayaks and canoes around the dam, and take out near the Augusta Canal head gates before camping again at Greenbrier High.
Finally, participants will end the trip Friday, putting in at the Augusta Canal head gates and taking out at the Savannah Riverkeeper site on the Savannah River.
The portion of the trip just before reaching Augusta and into downtown offers a great deal of variety, said April Ingle, the executive director of the Georgia River Network.
"It's really interesting. You come down through Class II rapids, but as you come into Augusta, it really flattens out," Ingle said. "There, it's a peaceful river."
Ingle noted that the difference between the urban quality of the downtown Augusta section and the rural quality of the first half of the trip makes for an interesting mix.
For Cook, the draw of the Augusta-area portion of the trip is the vast history people will see along the way.
"It's about 4,000 years of human habitation documented there," Cook said. "You paddle by Stallings Island, with an archaeology site there ... to the Augusta Canal, and all the history that surrounds it."
According to the Paddle Georgia Web site, a portion of the proceeds from the 2010 event will benefit local river groups, including the Savannah Riverkeeper organization. In five years, the event has raised more than $60,000 for river protection.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.