Until yesterday morning it had been at least 40 years since I’d paddled on Pachaug Pond in Voluntown, in southeastern Connecticut.
Wow, has it changed.
Pachaug, a man-made lake, is the largest in eastern Connecticut, at 841 acres, not all that much smaller than Bantam Lake in Litchfield County, the largest natural lake in the state at 947 acres, but dwarfed by the largest lake in the state, the man-made Candlewood Lake, which is a little over 5,000 acres and also located in northwestern Connecticut.
What struck me about Pachaug was the enormous amount of development on its shoreline since my last visit, which I’d guess was 1974 or 1975. That was long-ago enough that I don’t remember the lake in any real detail, but I remember enough to know there was a lot more wooded shoreline than there is today. With the exception of about 1 mile of shoreline bordered by Pachaug State Forest, much of the shoreline is now ringed with homes or cottages. At the south end of the lake is a large community of modular homes and trailers, easily numbering several dozen.
The lake itself, fed by the Pachaug River and several brooks, is shallow and the water is tea-colored with tannin. Launching my kayak at 8:30 a.m. I started with the lake covered in fog, even with bright sun, and an air temperature that may still have been in the high 40s. Within 15 minutes the fog burned off, however, and I paddled for well over 2 hours under blue skies with the temperature rising into the high 60s. I looped the entire lake, hugging the shoreline. I’d guess I paddled something over 5 miles.
It being October, many of the red maples along the shoreline, especially the ones stressed for one reason or another, were turning scarlet. Highbush blueberry bushes overhung the lake here and there, at least where there was some undeveloped shore, their leaves already well into fall color — scarlet or deep, dark red. Likewise, along the shore were widely scattered small colonies of New York aster, with pale violet blooms, yellow centers and delicate, narrow leaves. This is a wildflower that likes shorelines.
On the southeast side of the lake I paddled a narrow channel to the waterfall below the 20-foot dam that creates Glasgow Pond, an impoundment of the Pachaug River and one of the major sources of water to Pachaug Pond. On the way back to the state boat launch at the north end of the pond, I passed a home with land that juts into the lake from the east side – with a replica of the statue of liberty on the point. Pulled to shore to snap a photo.
Canada geese overhead, but I didn’t see any on the water. Several kingfishers, great blue herons. Crows. The usual songbirds.
It all made for a pleasant outing with great exercise and a re-introduction to a pond I hadn’t visited in so many years.