Starting The New Year: Polar Bear Plunge
It’s about a 90 minute drive north from Missoula. Since it was our first time and we didn’t know the conditions of the road and it was the 25th anniversary and registration opened at 10:00 AM, we decided to head out around 8:00 AM.
The drive up there was a cinch. We took it slow and maybe saw one other car heading in the same direction as us. An omen?
We were definitely early yet it was a lot of fun to see the entire event come together. The Raven is usually closed in the winter so there were some kinks to work out. It was neat to see the gang get back together.
While we waited (the plunge was at 2:00 PM), we grabbed a drink at the bar and started talking with other would-be plungers.
Stepping out onto the patio of The Raven is when it first hit - “Why are we doing this?”. The view over Flathead Lake gives the impression it’s cold out. It doesn’t give the weather justice - it was windy and freezing. I think the outside temperature was 18° and -2° with the wind chill.
In the picture below, the Plunge was off to the bottom left.
There was an announcement made about parking. Since overflow parking (The Raven parking lot fits 6-ish cars) was on Montana Highway 35, all cars had to be parked within the white line on the shoulder. The problem was that with all the snow, we didn’t know where the white line was.
I walked outside to check our car - even though we were one of the first to arrive, we parked the car facing South on 35. Assuming it’d be a madhouse getting out of there, we figured it’d be an easier and faster way to get us heading home.
On the way back in to The Raven, I took the picture below. This is looking West across the Flathead. Just down the embankment is where the plungers would line up, wait for the parade, wait for the countdown, then jump in.
Here’s the commemorative shirt.
And here’s the day’s menu.
Ever since seeing Casey Neistat’s video on The Impossible burger, I’ve been wanting to try one.
For someone who doesn’t eat red meat and hasn’t had a traditional burger in nearly 3 decades, The Impossible burger was delicious.
Funny story: I was out on the patio when lunch arrived. Jenn started eating and unknowingly started eating my lunch (she ordered the regular burger). It wasn’t until I came back in and opened the bun that we realized she was eating the “wrong” burger - she wasn’t able to tell the difference.
I walked out on the patio to take some video and audio of the elements. It wasn’t too cold. Until the wind picked up. Yikes.
Wave size, water temperature, air quality, etc. were being measured. Search and rescue and a handful of kayakers were all on hand to ensure safety and awareness. And some colorful outfits were on display.
Inside, things were starting to get busy.
15 minutes from the plunge.
People are starting to close bills, psych themselves up and heading down to the beach.
We did the same. Beforehand, we walked out to the car and dropped off all our non-essential gear. Sadly, this included the cameras and audio recorders so we didn’t capture the actual plunge. With a few news crews on-hand, we guessed we’d see it later.
Two last things to do:
Remote start the car to get it nice and warm after the plunge.
Order belly warming items. (Ps: Nice pour.)
Five minutes from the plunge.
We walked down the embankment. Because of the weather, the rocks were super slippery and we all lost our balance from time to time. Since we were all in this together, we all laughed and helped each other along.
Three minutes from the plunge.
Two minutes from the plunge.
Everything comes off except for what we are wearing into the lake. For me, it was a t-shirt, shorts, ankle socks and shoes.
One minute from the plunge.
The parade has crossed the street and has officially kicked off the countdown. A parade!
10 seconds from the plunge.
The crowd joins in on the countdown. A few whimpers are heard. Wait, are those guys just wearing speedos?
Out of the water.
Grab towel and dry clothes.
Sprint to car. Up the embankment. On icy rocks. Battling photographers. Staying focused. Slip backwards. A hand holds me up. I push forward, looking back and muttering the words “thank you” to the hand. Make it up the embankment. Highway. Cars. Cops. People everywhere. Where’d we park the car? I spot Jenn. Some laughing. Some really awful yet acceptable attempts to high five with other plungers.
Get in car.
Off to The Bonfire for our reward.
It felt great. Totally worth it.
We’d do it again.