It was “standing around” weather this year at the Wallowa Lake Polar Plunge on the north end of the lake Jan. 1. The temperature was a balmy 30 degrees, the sun was out, the water was so still that the mountains were perfectly mirrored. But one look at the faces of folks running back out of the plunge was enough to let you know what it felt like.
Alyssa Fitzwater, 26, of Oregon City, arrived to look at the lake without knowing about the plunge and within minutes had been talked into taking the dip by early arrivers Leo Arena and Mike Ribich, both of Enterprise and both going in for their third time.
She didn’t regret it.
“Amazing! That is a very fresh clean feeling,” she said.
That’s the idea, with most Wallowa Countians embracing both the “stupid fun” of the idea and the “leave the past year behind” in the lake concept. An estimated 80 people took the plunge this year, with a record number of youngsters demonstrating the ritual will go on for many more years.
Words and photos by Kathleen Ellyn