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Forging a Blue Trail on the Yellow River
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This summer has been a hot one.

For relief from the elements, Newton, Covington and Porterdale residents don't have to look far. The Yellow River runs through Newton County and provides both a cool and peaceful place to enjoy the summer months.

The Porterdale Yak Club opened April 1 and is bringing area residents closer to the river than ever. The Yak Club provides single kayaks for $20 a day, double kayaks for $30 and other items every day but Monday just a mile or so from the river.

Owner Kimberly Brown loads the renter up with a kayak, drives it to the river, makes sure you know what you're doing and waves goodbye. At the end of the day-long trip, she'll come back and pick you up.

Brown started the Porterdale Yak Club in order to bring a blue trail to the area, which is like a hiking trail for water bringing in eco-tourism and keeping the area clean. In order to have a blue trail the river must have someplace to rent kayaks and keep people coming to the river. That's why the Porterdale Yak Club opened its doors across from the Porterdale Mill.

She started the Yellow River Conservation and Preservation group in order to keep the river clean. The next step from that was the creation of the blue trail, leading to the Yak Club.

"The people that are in the group like the Yellow River Conservation and Preservation group go in once a week and clean the river up," Brown said. "People that are dumping and polluting the water, the whole nine yards are more aware of it now."

Since Brown has been going in to clean the river, the pollution has gone down as she reports at the beginning she was bringing out five bags of trash. Now that number is down to two bags of trash.

Such change was also seen in the Chattahoochee River, which was given the blue trail designation recently.

"It's cleaned the river up," Brown said. "It brings the community together and brings business in; it just goes hand and hand."

The business has been coming into Porterdale with Brown often selling out on weekends. The Yak club is available Tuesday and Wednesdays by calling Brown, and opens Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. On Saturday the Yak Club opens at 8:30 am. and opens at noon on Sundays.

"Instead of driving to Athens, Atlanta or farther away they can stay here," Brown said. "It's just a great river.

It's very peaceful and relaxing; it's all flat water."

The Yellow River doesn't offer rapids like the northern parts of the Chattahoochee but for those looking for a relaxing time with nature it lends itself nicely.

The river has even gained recognition by those who plan Paddle Georgia, an annual event bringing eco-tourist to a Georgia river for a week-long trip. Paddle Georgia selection starts with 12 rivers, before the committee whittles it down to one.

The Yellow River is on the list of 12 rivers for the 2013 event. However, in order to be considered a river must have two entry/exit points.

Along with where Brown puts people in the river now, there are also plans for a boat ramp. The city of Porterdale have earmarked $7,000 in grant money for the ramp and a park. The ramp and river will not accommodate motor boats, because of its lack of depth.

"This river is for flat water kayaks," Brown said.

The river, along with supporting people in flat water boats, also supports Blue Herons, White Herons, hawks and other wildlife seen regularly by water travelers. Fishing is also abundant in the Yellow River, which provides a clean enough environment for eating the fresh catch.

"The water is clean enough where you can eat the fish seven days a week out of the river," Brown said. "That aspect is kind of rare, most of them are so trashed out you can't do that."

The Yellow River remains clean enough to support such an activity due to Brown and the Yellow River Conservation and Preservation group, and will likely stay that way if the plans for a blue trail come true. Whether or not the blue trail designation will be given, the Yellow River is still the place in Newton to find relief from the summer's record heat.