Hawkinsville and Pulaski County folks really rolled out the red carpet to welcome us in helping celebrate the Ocmulgee Blueway Project, a work in progress of partners Bleckley, Houston, Twiggs and Pulaski Counties in developing a Blueway of approximately 54 miles on the Ocmulgee as it flows through the four counties. Hopefully the canoe trail will eventually reach from Macon on the Ocmulgee to Darien at the mouth of the Altamaha as it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

The City of Hawkinsville and Pulaski County furnished the Park, shuttle bus and other things, Pulaski Rivers Alive furnished extra toilet, firewood, grill and pontoon boats both days to assist with safety if needed. We are hesitant to mention names of contributors for fear of leaving someone out, but we must give a big thanks to Chuck Southerland of the Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, Karen Hunt who inspired us to plan this trip, Karen Bailey, Commissioner Brooks Bailey and the City Manager Jerry Murkerson who so kindly opened the Opera House for us to explore on Sunday after the Paddle.

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A special thanks to the families of David and Donald Johnson and Barry Martin who allowed 63 paddlers and several volunteers to use their private boat landings. They even
trimmed bushes and scraped the road to make our shuttle more convenient.

Several folks camped at the Mile Branch Park Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday morning 37 paddlers joined us for the 9 mile paddle. The weather was cool and cloudy and we soon found that we were going to be facing a really stiff head wind all day, but the Ocmulgee was higher than normal so the paddle was relatively easy.

Most of us who had never canoed or kayaked the Ocmulgee before were really taken with its beauty. Even though the water is naturally muddy, it seemed to be very clean. There was hardly any trash along the banks and the few homes that you could see from the river were well kept. Even though the sand bars were covered, the scenery was beautiful with a variety of foliage. I especially enjoy seeing the Cyprus knees at the edge of the river.

Several of us had dinner at another good restaurant and headed back to the Park for some tall tales around the campfire. We had several new canoers and kayers for Sunday while other paddlers from Saturday were unable to join us for Sunday’s paddle. However, we still had well over 30 people paddling canoes and kayaks join us for the 6 mile paddle from Johnson Landing to the Mile Branch Park. If possible, this section of the river was even more beautiful than the previous day. Again, we had a fast paddle and all too soon were back at camp. Folks had a great time and we hope to make another trip on the Ocmulgee Blueway.

The local folks made this one of the most pleasant trips I have ever made. Jamie Higgins brought her camcorder and will be posting a you tube video in a few weeks at www.riverratweeknd.org . Thanks to the twenty Georgia Canoeing Association paddlers who joined us. For the two day paddle, we had 63 canoers and kaykers from 24 different cities! Let’s do it again!