Month long trip - Ocmulgee & Altamaha

-- Last Updated: Feb-25-14 9:28 AM EST --

I will be kayaking in April down the Ocmulgee River from Macon, GA to the Altamaha River and then down to Darien, GA.

Can anyone give me the river mileage from Macon to Darien? I believe that it is about 300-330 miles. I am planning a month for the trip. I believe that is more than enough, but I hope to just take my time and cruise slowly.

I will be carrying enough supplies for a month trip with me so I don't have to resupply along the way.

I can't wait.

Some thoughts
That sounds like an ambitious plan, and likely a lot of fun for someone who has the available time and who enjoys doing something so adventurous on their own.

I can’t help much with the estimation of river miles. There ARE programs available that let you trace your course on a map and the mileage is added up accurately. I have an ancient program from DeLorme that will do that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find something online with the same capability. If you can’t find such a program, try the old-fashioned way. Look up some aerial photos and find a few segments of the river that look “typical” as far as the nature of the meanders. Lay a string along a portion of the river in those areas, then measure both the string and the straight-line distance using the on-screen scale. Make a correction factor for distance based on those two measurements and apply it to as many straight-line distance measurements on the map as necessary (you’ll need to break up the trip into several segments for this on account of changes in overall direction of travel). Absolute accuracy won’t be that important unless you plan on pushing your limits when it comes to daily mileage, such that any necessary increase in daily mileage because your initial estimate was wrong becomes “too much”. It sounds like you are planning a moderate pace, so a little inaccuracy in mileage estimation won’t really matter much.

Apparently you’ve done this sort of thing before and don’t need much in the way of advice. The biggest thing I see that’s worth stressing is being prepared for your water filter to fail (bring spare parts), and doing things to lessen filter-clogging problems (maybe bring a pail for overnight removal of sediment). The next-biggest thing I can think of is being prepared to camp when the water is high (more difficulty finding camping sites) or has recently been high (mud everywhere).

I just breezed over the whole route via air photos, and I’m really impressed with the amount of forest land along much of the upper stretch. There should be a pretty remote feel to much of this river. Even along the lower half, you likely won’t see much of the industry/agriculture that’s not far from the river on account of the bit of forest that’s right along the river itself, and there are a few big forest areas down there too.

Thanks for your advice and help. To a few of your points.

I started off doing about 800 miles on the Appalacian Trail a few years ago. That helped me understand how to use light weight gear and to carry light, small volume dehydrated food supplies.

I use a type of water filter that has a ceramic cartridge that never needs replacing. When it gets clogged, you just open it up and wash off the ceramic cartridge and reuse it. I have pumped from mud holes on the AT and then just washed the ceramic cartridge off and it was ready to use again.

I am comfortable with the distance, time and my gear for this trip. I use a very lightweight tent for camping on the sand bars and I have a backpacking hammock for camping in the swamps.

I just don’t care much for the limited places to get off the river in case of flooding or major storms.

But, my gear and background in backpacking has helped me alot. I am less experienced in a kayak, but this is a flat river all the way to the coast.

Thanks again.

I like the idea of the tent AND hammock. I’ve never used a hammock myself, but I can see the advantage if camped in many of the kinds of forest situations I’ve seen, and it would also be great for when high water has left a uniform coating of slimy mud on the ground (you can deal with that by bagging your tent’s ground cloth, but minimizing the amount of muddy gear you have could be even better).

You said you don’t care so much for the lack of escape points if the weather or water levels really turn on you, but you’ve probably been in the middle of nowhere before. Certainly the more remote river trips being suggested on your other thread would present the same problem, so you could think of this as having much of the same isolation as a wilderness trip without actually going to the wilderness!

I started using a Hennessy Hammock when I was backpacking. Actually my tent is a little lighter, but as you say, when the ground is muddy (swamp) or you are on a rocky hill with no level place, the hammock is a great choice. Also, I like being off the ground because of snakes. There are some kayakers and canoers camping directly on water by putting up their hammocks from their boats and then just getting in for the night.

Yes, I must admit that I always like an “escape route” or a “bale out” plan whether I’m backpacking or kayaking. Water travel/camping is just a little newer to me, but issues can happen in either type of camping. I have been caught in amazing thunderstorms on top of mountains before also and it’s scary also.

I just love the idea of kayak camping since I don’t have to carry the weight on my back. But it has it’s own issues also. But, overall I am finding this new way to do extended camping trips amazing.

Hanging over water
This is not a very clean hammock setup, but this is a great alternative when the water is high. Check out the pictures.

This is NOT me by the way.

Did a short paddle from St. Simmons Island, GA to Two-Way fish camp in Darien many years ago. Crossed the South Altahama River and saw lots and lots of very, very large alligators sunning themselves on shore lines until they saw me paddling by and they quickly ran/slithered into the water. Just sayin’…if you find my paddle and my watch, let me know. Take care. It was a great paddle though! There are some kayak outfitters on St. Simmons and/or Brunswick that may be able to answer your questions, or on Tybee Island… Savannah Canoe and Kayak?

See more tips at Rainy Adventures

Your trip sounds wonderful. Unable to answer your question about mileage. But if you like to read books while traveling, “Drifting Into Darien” by Janice Ray is my favorite book about paddling (and much more) on the Altamaha River.
Mark L.

This thread is from 2014!

2014 …OK, but if any of y’all are considering a similar trip see this web site.