DOWLING PARK — For the first time in 15 years, Paddle Georgia made its way to Florida.
Paddle Georgia, an annual canoe and kayak trip which began in 2005, started this year’s journey at the Withlacoochee River in Valdosta on June 15, crossed into Florida on June 17 and finished the trip Saturday in Mayo and on the Suwannee River.
More than 330 people took part in the event, which featured nightly camping and catered meals. Some opted for the two-day option while around 200 people completed the entire 92-mile journey.
“My daughter and I have been doing it for 11 years,” said Terry Pate, treasurer of the Georgia River Network and a Lawrenceville, Georgia, resident. “A lot of people wanted to do the Suwannee because we hadn’t done that dark, tannic river.”
Pate, along with his daughter Meghan Zimmerman and his 3-year-old granddaughter Ellie Ray Zimmerman, completed the entire trip.
The annual event has raised more than $430,000 for river protection. WWALS Watershed Coalition and its projects, Suwannee Riverkeeper and the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, were the beneficiaries of the 2019 event.