Today’s miles: 29.1 Today’s paddling miles: 29.1 Cumulative miles: 89.4 Cumulative paddling miles: 60.9
I camped near Flat Creek, not the one near Oakwood, but one that empties into the Chattahoochee River near Lula Bridge (GA 52). The Chattahoochee is backed up by Lake Lanier here, so there was no point in trying to detect dye. I got up, had coffee and breakfast by headlamp, broke camp, packed the boat, and got underway at 7:30. Breakfast was a little disappointing, since I had left my breakfast food in the boat, and I really didn’t feel like wading into the muddy creek by headlamp to retrieve my oatmeal. I had a protein bar, dried fruit, and a second cup of coffee instead.
I had told the Gainseville Times Metro Editor, Shannon Casas, who had asked for an interview, that I thought I would make it to Gainesville Marina at GA 53 by 10:00 or 10:30. I wasn’t even close. Fortunately, I was able to reach her and a Georgia DNR, EPD scientist, who was meeting me to collect samples and deliver empty sample bottles, to let them know that it was a lot farther to the marina than a quick glance had suggested. I’m finding it very difficult to juggle the multiple tasks of paddling, navigating, chasing dye, collecting samples, running tests, sleeping, eating, charging batteries, etc. Careful navigation takes time that I seem to not have while paddling, which is also why I haven’t included daily mileages except this time while I am sitting at home on the computer. I need to work on this. The interview was delightful, because Shannon and her photographer were both bright and pleasant people. When Kathy picked me up around 6:30, we were discussing how bad I smelled and she said, “I hope you didn’t look like that when they took your picture.” It seems that in dressing inside a very cramped, covered hammock, I had buttoned my shirt crooked. Not the first time, but at least I had an excuse this time. Shannon was planning a Sunday edition story (this Sunday???), so it will be fun to see if the crooked shirt shows up. Being able to embarrass your family without regret is a talent that we lose with the passing of youth, but as I am learning, it returns with age.
The logo used by Kruger Canoes for their Sea Wind canoes is a monarch butterfly. These had special significance to Verlen Kruger. After passing Thompson Bridge, on my way to Gainesville Marina, I saw about a dozen monarchs 15 to 20 feel above the lake. They were spread out, not in a group, but all headed in the same direction: southwest toward Mexico. It was pretty special.
I paddled like mad after leaving Gainesville Marina in hopes of reaching Buford Dam by dark. My plan had been to come off the river or lake in this case, to refit and adjust my gear and procedures based on what I learned these first five days, and then get dropped off below the dam, eliminating an otherwise difficult portage. Alas, after a couple of hours of paddling, it became apparent that it would be long since dark before I reached Buford Dam. I’m seeing a significant loss in my cruising paddling speed, from 5 mph down to 4 mph, with all of the gear I am carrying. I met Kathy at Bethel Park boat ramp, which is incorrectly located on Atlantic Mapping Lake Lanier map, by the way, and went home for a hot shower, a great dinner, and a much-appreciated massage. I will take four days to tend to other business, refit, and get back on the lake. Kathy has graciously offered to take me back to Bethel Park so that I can finish paddling the length of Lake Lanier, another 6.5 miles (10.4 km). She will then meet me during lunch and haul me and my gear down to the base of the dam. Pretty nice lady, I think.