Our paddles are often in remote areas and access to the internet can be a struggle at best. It was thus that I learned my first lesson about blogging on Paddle Georgia… it is not easy. Days 1-3 were prime examples of this. I had my laptop, I had power but internet access eluded me. We stayed at a cabin in Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park. The park has five such cabins and they are very nice, so nice in fact that I felt a twinge of guilt staying there in recognition of the inevitable limitations imposed on my paddling brethren either camping on the grounds of or sleeping inside the hallways and gymnasium of Tattnall County High School.
Here are a few photos of the cabin:
For all its amenities our cabin had no internet access, normally this would be a plus and I really would not want this feature in the cabin but for blogging it created an issue. Internet access was available in the park at the ranger station which was probably about a half mile away from the cabin but there was no convenient way to get there short of walking and hanging outside with the bugs while trying to blog (the ranger station was always closed by the time we got off the river).
While we are on the subject of accommodations we should talk about the other more popular options for sleeping. Staying at a hotel or cabin has its benefits but this also isolates you from the full Paddle Georgia experience. It is also an additional expense which can be avoided by using the other options.
Camping on site at the current staging area (usually a local high school) offers a full immersion experience in Paddle Georgia. Veterans have figured out how to choose the best spot and also how to maximize comfort and utility at a given site. A move day that involves setting up a new camp usually means getting off the river earlier to get a “good” spot. Good is relative of course as we are talking about a high school campus that was not designed for camping and in most cases there are restrictions about where you can camp so athletic fields or other sensitive areas do not get damaged. Shade is at a premium so you will see many creative set ups to take advantage of ANY available area that offers even minimal shading. I have never had much success at finding shade because above all I seek to maximize my time on the river for any given day. I like camping now that I have the right equipment for it. My recommendations for the right equipment are:
1. A good tent that is not to small and will withstand wind gusts. Don’t scrimp on the tent if you are going to camp, it is money well spent.
2. A really good inflatable pad to sleep on. I have tried the cellular foam pads and don’t find them very comfortable. Trust me you want to get a good nights sleep on Paddle Georgia! I use/love an REI 3.5″ thick camp bed. It is a bit bulky but that is not really an issue in this instance. I also carry mine when camping out of my kayak, it takes up precious space BUT ensures a good nights sleep, the benefit of which cannot be overestimated.
3. A tent fan. It took me two years to give in to this but when it is hot you want air circulation in the tent. Campers were very lucky this year as we had some great breezes but this has NOT been the norm for Paddle Georgia in my past experiences. I found a Coleman model that also has a light built in which come in handy.
4. I bring a sleeping bag but due to temperatures in June I usually leave it in the car once we leave the initial location and there is a clear picture of the weather for the week. Instead I use my silk bag liner which crushes up very small and provides ample insulation and comfort.
This is one of my campsites from Paddle Georgia 2011. Notice the complete lack of shade due to my shameless lollygagging on the river.
NOTE: I have received all kinds of crap about posting this picture out of context on my Facebook page. I did not camp at all on Paddle Georgia 2012, never said I did. Some folks have hotel envy and cannot let it go….. You know who you are. The picture is to illustrate a typical campsite of mine (and this is MY blog). I will be commenting on the hotel experience so stay tuned. I would also like to point out to the haters that I had copious amounts of hot water (using a low flow shower head of course) when taking a shower all three days in my luxurious cabin so nah nah boo boo to you…..
Here is a shot of Tara Muenz helping to ensure people don’t miss the camping area. What you see in the background is a typical Paddle Georgia high school camping experience.
Photo Credit: Gwyneth Moody Georgia River Network
Staying in the gym/hallway is an experience I can not speak on first hand. Areas are designated as OK to sleep in while at the current facility. Some folks do this every year and swear by (or at) the experience. A big benefit of indoor camping is AIR CONDITIONING. I believe the gym in at least one location this year was not air conditioned but spaces in certain the hallways were made available. Here is a gym camper setup:
Photo Credit to Bobby Marie! Thank you for sharing your digs with us!
I may actually try this at least one night next year to have the experience. Gym campers feel free to add your comments on what you like/dislike about this option.