Albany, Georgia has a lot of really fun outdoor pursuits. When I heard our girls’ getaway weekend was going to include on a kayak excursion on the Flint River, I had mixed feelings. I like kayaking…but I don’t love it.
“Will we have to struggle against the current?” I asked, recalling most of my previous excursions in a two-person kayak where my honey did all the muscle work while I took the selfies.
“No, the current will be with us,” said Raschelle, our trip leader.
We put-in with our rentals from Kayak Attack outfitters. The access/launch point was near one of several bridges on the river. In southwestern Georgia, the Flint River flows through downtown Albany, the largest city on the river. It’s one of only 40 rivers in the U.S. that flows more than 200 miles unimpeded by dams or other synthetic systems, adding to its natural significance.
But perhaps the river is best known for its mention in Gone with the Wind, where author Margaret Mitchell refers to the Flint River as bordering Scarlett O’Hara’s “Tara” plantation.
It was a typical sunny Georgia day….the sky was blue, the river was calm, my gear safely secured in my bubblegum pink wetbag, and all was right with the world.
I floated on the still river with little effort, amicably chatting with Kimberly who was in a kayak next to me.
“Now this is how I like to kayak,” I said to her, thinking maybe my previous judgment of the sport had been too harsh.
And so it went for a couple of hours until we hit a patch where the water level was quite low and rapids (okay, currents) were visible.
“Cross over to this side,” shouted Raschelle, as she and Shelby paddled across the technical passage, i.e. a route through a rock garden in which considerable maneuvering is required for safe transit. “It’s too shallow where you are.”
I aimed my kayak to the other side and began paddling. About halfway across I noticed I wasn’t getting anywhere. I paddled harder and harder, using every bit of strength I could muster. Still, nothing.
“I’d help you, but I can barely help myself!” Ruth called out as the current carried her past.
I struggled some more. I tried to see the bottom, but I just saw black. Christine drifted past with a pitying look on her face. I was pretty sure hoped she was going to get help.
I kept battling the current, giving it my all, but my position never changed and the banks remained solidly in place on either side. And now there was no one in sight anywhere in the river.
“I’m gonna die,” I thought to myself, recalling that alligators have been sighted in the Flint River. I can be a bit dramatic sometimes.
Rashelle, who’d already made it a considerable way downriver, came back into sight, apparently to help.
“I can’t get anywhere!” I whined yelled. “The current is too strong!”
With a smug smile and a soothing voice dripping with southern charm, she said, “Honey, you’re not caught in the current. You’re stuck on a rock.”
Sure enough, my kayak was wedged in place by a huge black stone. And not just any stone, mind you, but a large, irregularly shaped black rock that had a ridge in the middle into which my kayak was solidly jammed.
And I could not get it out!
I stuck my paddle into it over and over again, at different angles and from both sides of my kayak. Raschelle tried to grab onto the front of my kayak, but the current caught her and she drifted away. I gave a mighty effort with everything I had…
Afloat! Finally underway again, I splashed furiously to catch up with my friends.
After the cheering quieted down, I indignantly declared, “I meant to do that. It was like sitting on a throne, and can’t we all just agree that’s where I belong?”
But frankly, I didn’t give a damn (c’mon, get it?).
We continued until we were almost three hours into the expedition – which is about two hours more than any of my previous kayak endeavors.
“Are we there yet?” I asked (again). I’d originally thought the flatwater was a blessing, but it was beginning to become a curse. My shoulders, lats, and triceps were aching from the effort to move my kayak on my own, with no natural help at all from the evil Flint.
“Almost!” said Rashelle. “Just a bit more, around another bend, and then we’ll see the take-out point.
My upper body strength barely held out. I had open blisters/sores on my hands. At last, I saw those ahead of me banking their kayaks.
“Don’t miss the spot,” said Rashelle, “because the next place to get out is another three miles downriver.”
“I can guarantee that won’t happen!” I said.
I got to the bank, with Rashelle bringing up the rear.
The kayak excursion was more strenuous than I’d anticipated, but notwithstanding my humor, it was a ton of fun, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
And it gave us a reason for guilt-free indulgences in food and drink that evening. Because we needed a reason.
There’s so much do to in Albany, Georgia! Stay tuned for the next post for 13 things you won’t want to miss in Albany!
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Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of Visit Albany during her stay in Georgia, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.