Loganville resident Tammy Griffin is gearing up for her sixth annual Paddle Georgia adventure on the Ogeechee River in just a couple of short weeks — and she’s just as eager for this paddle as any before.
“I am very excited to paddle the Ogeechee River but more importantly I am excited to see my paddling friends I have met through prior Paddle Georgias. No matter how much time has passed, when I see them it’s like no time has passed at all and we just pick up where we left off,” she said. “This week is an opportunity for me to breathe some fresh air for a change (I work on the 39th floor of a tall building in Midtown Atlanta), soak up some Vitamin D, and just have a great week of paddling fun.”
Griffin began her Paddle Georgia tradition back in 2009 after seeing a television commercial advertising the event. She thought it looked like fun, so she signed up. But she in no way anticipated how impactful her experience would turn out to be.
“About seven years ago, I saw a segment on GPB’s Georgia Traveler about Paddle Georgia and thought it really looked like fun and wondered to myself whether or not I could do a week long paddle. I had never done any real paddling except when I was a camp counselor years ago. At that time, my father was very sick but after he passed away, I decided that life was too short so I registered for my first Paddle Georgia, bought my first kayak and my first day on the Board River was Class 2s,” Griffin said. “Paddle Georgia offers an opportunity to meet new people from various backgrounds, to paddle the clean pretty sections and not so clean or pretty sections of a Georgia river, to learn the local ecology and history of various areas we paddle through, and to just have fun on and off the water. Even if I am an adult – water gun fights from a kayak would make anyone laugh and feel cooler in the hot summer sunshine. Paddle Georgia is like summer camp for me and has become something I look forward to each year.”
Griffin has now paddled several rivers in Georgia, including the Broad and Savannah Rivers, the Oconee River, the Altamaha River, the Flint River and the Chattahoochee River — and she said while she enjoys it it’s far from easy.
“There’s just something about being on the river that puts you in a different frame of mind and calms the nerves from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, this week of paddling 100 miles, portaging boats around dams, camping in the heat with bugs and critters and wearing my hair in a ponytail with no makeup is not an easy or relaxing vacation and it is not for everyone. But when asked why I do this, I tell people that stepping or, in this case, paddling outside my comfort zone is just part of what makes life more exciting,” she said.
But most importantly, Griffin said the adventure has offered her opportunities to see Georgia and meet people.
“Over the past several years, I have returned with friends to day paddle some of these rivers and look forward to new Georgia rivers to explore,” she said.
This year’s Paddle Georgia will kick off June 20 and will span 95 miles in just seven days. For more information visit www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia/.