Walk on fiery coals in Florida? Sure.
Take a plunge in a semi-frozen lake in Canada? Why not?
It’s been quite the winter for Raleigh, North Carolina’s David Richards.
The American visitor went from hot feet to cold shoulders after dipping himself fully into the shallow and frigid waters of Coldstream’s Kalamalka Lake Sunday, Jan. 1, kicking off the new year as a guest of the Vernon, B.C. Lake Plunge Club.
“I’ve never done this before,” said a shivering Richards, 53, after spending several minutes between ice flows in Kal Lake. “Walking on fire in Florida was definitely easier.”
Richards and Leslie Fullerton – originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, now living in Fort Worth, Texas – joined Richards in visiting a North Okanagan mutual friend, and thoroughly enjoyed his dip beneath Kal Lake’s surface, shouting FREEDOM before plunging.
“I’m used to cold showers, this is wonderful,” said Fullerton, 59, who has left behind three decades of IT software work in corporate America to become a life coach. “This is definitely an upgrade.”
The two bald Americans made their way to Kal Beach wearing woolen toques.
Yet another plunger making their cold water debut Sunday was Anastasia Shepherd, originally from Russia who moved with her family to the North Okanagan from Port Moody earlier this year.
“Oh my God, it was refreshing and really really cold,” smiled Shepherd. “My body has never experienced that. It’s tingling. I just wanted to do something to start this year out of my comfort zone and try something crazy. I want to do lots of new things this year. This was my start.”
Shepherd’s son Mason, 11, stood safely on the pier at Kal Lake as mom took the proverbial plunge. He had zero interest in following her into the water.
“No. No, no, no,” said Mason.
More than a dozen souls, including veteran lake plungers, took advantage of the overcast skies and warm Jan. 1 temperatures to submerse themselves in Kal Lake – some for a few minutes, some for considerably longer.
Janice Buick went in the water wearing a hula outfit. Gia Mowat was the Warrior Princess,complete with Viking helmet.
Local celebrity, ultra athlete Shanda Hill – she of her famous ice water swimming photos in Kal Lake, and dunking herself fully into a garbage pail of ice water – was fully clothed and above water as she helped those in the water atop her paddleboard pushing ice away from them.
A warming tent and hot water bowl to warm the feet awaited plungers atop the pier.
The Lake Plunge club meets often at their favourite, er, watering hole, and you can follow their exploits on their Facebook page, Vernon B.C. lake plunge.