Hardy locals in search of an exhilarating rush convened at Offut Lake Resort just outside of Tenino to take a leap into frigid waters as part of the resort’s time-honored polar plunge Wednesday morning to usher in the new year and help out the less fortunate by contributing to the Tenino Food Bank.
Tenino’s Nicole Turner was one of several long-time jumpers on hand, who described the sensation of jumping into 30-degree lake as a “great feeling” from a physical perspective, but also explained the symbolic nature of her winter ritual.
“It’s nostalgic,” she said. “It kind of washes off the last year and starts with the new. I didn’t do it one year and it wasn’t a good one. So, every year now I’m jumping in.”
Similarly, first-timer Paula Barton was beaming after making her leap of faith. And while she conceded that the waters had her shivering, the Centralia resident reported that she simply felt “amazing” after she made her way back to the wooden deck area outside the Lady of the Lake Restaurant.
Barton, a shivering Miguel Beckford and another young plunger who announced that he couldn’t feel his toes were all invited to warm up alongside the site’s multiple fire pits or treat themselves to a Bloody Mary or softer beverage inside the restaurant.
The resort and restaurant are part of a family-run operation headed by Becky Pogue and her two sons, Rob and Tom, who have created an all-purpose recreation destination at the resort, where visitors can partake in fishing, RVing, camping and boating, among other special interests.
But the annual New Year’s polar plunge — which has been taking place for more than 15 years — is one event that only keeps growing in popularity, according to the Pogue brothers.
While Tom maintained that the activity has grown just by word of mouth, Rob facetiously offered that the reason why the attendance has multiplied from four participants in the plunge’s first year is due to the preponderance of fires and propane heaters burning through the deck area.
Becky Pogue, on the other hand, highlighted a few of the brave “double-dippers” who attend the plunge, as they’ll catapult themselves two or even three times into frosty lake.
One participant who’s always on the lookout for new spots to jump into is Pullman’s Greg Urquhart, who showed up at the plunge with his wife, Sara, and his 7-year-old daughter, Gabby in tow.
“I jumped in the Arctic Ocean in November once. It started my tradition when I got back from Iraq. I’ve been trying to hit stuff ever since, but usually not in a community setting; I’d just jump in on my own,” he shared. “When you jump in the water and the cold hits you, you’re invigorated and recharged for the day.”