A kayaker's view of Killingly
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Aug. 1, 2011
Twelve paddlers and their kayaks showed up at the Five Mile Outfitters boat launch at 99 Commercial St., in Danielson, on July 27. They were there to take part in Paddle Killingly's weekly paddling excursion. The group of recreational kayakers traveled up Five Mile Pond and into the Five Mile River for 2.5 miles, before turning around and making their way back to the boat launch area.
The leisurely paddle took almost two hours and provided the paddlers with a rare view of the Five Mile River, a winding, slow-moving waterway home to a variety of wildlife. Once on the river, homes and businesses were obscured by dense vegetation growing along the banks. Sounds of traffic gave way to the lapping of paddles and quiet conversation.
Paddle Killingly grew out of the Borderlands Project, which was launched in 2001 by the Nature Conservancy. Their aim was to restore a 136,000-acre forest and watershed area that connected 10 communities along a section of the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.
Virge Lorents was a member of the Borderlands group. “We heard over and over again that people missed having access to the water around this area,” she said. When Borderlands ended, Paddle Killingly began. “Residents have no idea that Killingly can look so wild from the Five Mile River,” she said. “We want to turn the community on to kayaking. And it's a window to tourism.”
This is the third season of Paddle Killingly. According to Eric Rumsey, one of the original founders, most of the paddle outings are in lakes and ponds or on slow-moving rivers. As the summer progresses, they consider water levels on waterways to avoid portages, or at least keep them to a minimum. The paddles have taken place at Ross Pond, the Quinebaug Reservoir, the West Thompson Dam and on portions of the Quinebaug River and Five Mile River.
The group's website, www.paddlekillingly.org, posts a schedule of Tuesday and Wednesday night paddles through the summer. The trips are for paddlers of all ages and skill levels. Rumsey invites others to join the group and see for themselves the watery trails in the area. “The more the merrier,” he said.
People who join the group paddles are expected to bring personal floatation devices along on the trips.