The short story: Important tips if you are planning a trip to Sasamat Lake
- You may not be able to get in to the parking area unless you go well before noon, especially on nice days. Parking is not allowed on Bedwell Bay Road as it usually is.
- If you see the sign says “FULL” for White Pine Beach, you may still be able to get in. I have seen the “FULL” sign on when the gate is open, and I suspect park staff are using this as a deterrent to prevent the beaches from getting too crowded.
- Expect lots of people on the beach. It could be difficult to maintain physical distancing. White Pine Beach is not a good place to be if you are worried about Covid-19 and are in a vulnerable group.
- The Sasamat Lake Loop hike is one-way only (counter-clockwise). Please respect this.
My first swim of the year at Sasamat Lake
One of the joys of summer for me is swimming in a lake. I’ve written in other posts about swimming at Sasamat Lake and the mini-triathlon course I set up for myself many years ago. At least once every summer, I do my triathlon all-out as a solo race.
This summer will be different.
I realized this last week when I decided I’d go to the lake in the morning to avoid crowds, and run a couple of laps of the lake trail to get warm enough to try my first dip in the freezing water. There haven’t been very many warm days yet.
First, I was shocked when I saw the sign saying White Pine Beach was “FULL” even though it wasn’t even 10:00 a.m.! That’s when I suspected it was a false alarm. Sure enough, the gate was open. However, I was astonished to see that the parking lots were about three quarters full, and it wasn’t even a sunny day!
I followed my plan, and ran over two loops of the lake trail. There were only a few people walking the loop. It was my first run there since last summer, and by the last 2K I was struggling with the many steps (which are tough on my arthritic knee) and the occasional steep little hills. I worked up a good sweat, though!
The beaches were crowded but I was able to isolate myself sufficiently in a grassy area. I managed to stay in the icy water for almost three minutes! I hadn’t been swimming since my last time at the Poirier Aquatic Centre, way back in February when I had my waterproof wrist cast on.
It was exhilarating to brave the water and swim frantically for a couple of minutes. I saw lots of triathletes in their wetsuits. No wonder they are at the lake—where else can they train? As for the rest of the crowd filling the beaches on a cloudy weekday morning—it shows how much people are longing for an escape from their homes. Kids haven’t been at school and all their organized sports have been cancelled, as have most trips and vacations.
We are living through a complicated medical and social experiment in this time of coronavirus. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if the crowded beaches lead to spikes in Covid-19 cases or not. If not, why not? Is the virus weakened by warmer weather, as other influenza viruses are? Will public health officials and parks officials impose stricter limitations to the number of people allowed on the beaches, or even close them altogether?
Whatever happens, I doubt that I’ll be able to swim at Sasamat Lake this summer whenever I want to. My favourite time at the lake is late afternoon, when the water is at its warmest and the sun’s rays don’t burn as fiercely. But I may have a lot of competition for my 2 square metres of beach real estate.