The Great Hudson River Paddle, a 150-mile-long trip from Albany to the Big Apple inaugurated in 2001 to draw attention to the river’s vibrant water trail, had a surprise participant this year.

Governor George Pataki joined the group on the last day of the trip in a double kayak for several miles of paddling along the Manhattan shoreline. The governor, a canoeist and kayaker, last year earmarked $1 million in state funds to develop launch sites and camping spots along the river and to spread the word that the Hudson is a rich recreational resource for small boats.

One local kayaker who saw Pataki paddling said he was “awesome” in his technique and the pace he set. When the group reached their final stop in lower Manhattan, the governor immediately pitched in to carry several boats from a kayak dock up to the site’s pier.