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Nov28, 2008

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To read about past trips, please select a date on the left.

Visit this site to learn about the adventures of a bunch of rednecks devoted to canoeing the rivers, swamps, and sloughs of the area. You will meet those who view trips as a fun undertaking rather than a demonstration of paddling skills. You will not find a political agenda. The group includes some tree huggers and others who hold Rachel Carson responsible for many thousands of African malaria deaths. There is wide range of humanity represented. Those who would save the world are welcomed but that is not the point of the group.

 

 

The first thing you need to know about the Fellow Travelers is that this is not a club. There are no dues, no meetings, and no elections.  Charlie Stines is the King, and there are various other titles of distinction amongst the travelers, but there are no constitutions, bylaws, and precious few rules. The original three rules were no drunks, no motors, and no women. But the rules were broken quite often. The no women rule is so often broken that it is now generally just no ugly women.

Next, you need to know that this is a canoeing thing. Sure, kayakers and fishermen come along, but the central theme is canoeing and canoe camping. A few travelers may pack lightly and have fancy backpacking gear, and that is fine. (There has to be a lot of tolerance since so many travelers practice being obnoxious) But eating good, hearty fried food cooked on Coleman stoves, sleeping in individual tents, and carrying large ice chests is the norm.

Since the Fellow Travelers have no organization, well, then there is very little organized. There is a three-day trip each April and each September, and usually a trip through the Okefenokee Swamp around the first week in October. An overnighter is traditional for the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving.  For the past few years a trip for Memorial Day has been a popular outing.  The Suwannee River Water Management District has opened canoe camps at Woods Ferry, Holton Creek, Dowling Park, Peacock Slough, and at the Adams Tract.  These facilities make it possible to canoe camp with very little roughing it.   In addition, there are numerous day trips dreamed up on the spur of the moment. Check this site for information on activities. The travelers also host the Moultrie gang of the Georgia Conservancy on a couple of day trips during the year.

There is a newsletter, published by the King every now and then. Generally, an issue is sent out at least in February and July. There is no cost for the newsletter, but a few generous people sometimes make contributions to the cause. The newsletter chronicles the latest trips, gives a schedule of coming events, and information about individual paddlers. If you would like to on the mailing list, contact the King at stines@windstream.net.

The Fellow Travelers try to find waters which are easy and safe to paddle. The voyages are usually excellent opportunities for parents to spend time with even relatively young children. This is definitely not a whitewater enthusiast's challenge. Most of the rivers paddled are in the south Georgia and north Florida area, but there have been trips on South Carolina's Edisto, Alabama's Choctawhatchee, the Boundary Waters,  and Arkansas' Buffalo.

Almost anyone is welcome to come along on the trips, except for the Okefenokee trip which has to be very limited due to available facilities. Those who act too rowdy are not invited back. The Fellow Travelers like to take a preacher along to keep down the knife fights and keep the card players honest. There are usually enough lawyers to create disputes.

The Fellow Travelers have been canoeing together since 1989. The newsletter is mailed to over 150 people, and about that many individuals have made a trip with the group. Paddlers have come from as far away as Panama, Connecticut, and Nevada to make the trips. The core group is centered in the Georgia and Florida area, with a fair contingent from the North Carolina hills

Those wishing to make a trip need not own a canoe, as there are usually canoes which can be borrowed. This is on a first-come, first-served basis, and the last to ask may end up in a boat resembling a washtub or worse. There are no charges for the trips, but those who eat community meals are welcome to share the expenses. In addition, there are permit fees for the Okefenokee trips, and some put-ins and take-outs require launching or parking fees. The costs of publishing and mailing the newsletter, the postage and telephone fees, the cost of maintaining the website, and various other are somewhat alleviated by the voluntary gifts of the gang.