Have the Courage to Try Something New: A Polar Bear Plunge

Happy New Year, dear Camping with Five Kids readers! May your 2024 be filled with new adventures.

Don’t be afraid to try something new this year. One of the exciting parts of our UnCruise trip was trying new adventures; like ascending the ridge in front of Lamplugh Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Or a “Polar Bear Plunge.”

Our UnCruise guide, Gray, said only about 1% of people actually hike among the glaciers at the park. We saw a sea otter in the water on our journey to the glacier. The water was a milky aquamarine from the moraine, the debris left behind when a glacier recedes.

Lamplugh Glacier has a terminal moraine. It was shrinking back away from the water’s edge in summertime. There was a stony beach of sorts. A high and low tide could be seen there.

The hike was arduous, up loose stone and rock. We got up alongside Lamplugh Glacier. Purple lupine and white puffed flowers dotted the rugged landscape. The view was worth the climb, even though we pushed through dense, small bushes and shrubs and had to grab branches and rock to balance ourselves.

We each got “glacial facials,” the spreading on of glacial silt on our faces.

We got back to the ship just in time for the “Polar Bear Plunge” into glacial waters. Excitement mounted. Something new to try! Yet I had to find the courage to do it.

As I donned my bathing suit, I convinced myself I’d never have this opportunity again. I told myself the crew would never let someone drown. They would be watching. They would search for me if I didn’t come up.

Trembling with fear, I moved slowly toward a slot on the slippery kayak launching platform in the second set of plungers. Others moved into the slot before me. I became fourth in the row. As I gazed down into the water, I noticed its opaqueness. How could they find me if I didn’t come up? You couldn’t see anything in this water.

The captain started the countdown.

Everyone shouted: “3, 2, 1!”

And we all jumped into the frigid water. I did a cannonball.

Down and down, I sank into an icy abyss. The heavy water covering me like a smothering blanket. I felt momentarily trapped under it. Frigid salt water forced its way up my nose. I couldn’t rise to the surface fast enough. When I did, my jump-mates were getting out.

I swam the short distance to the platform and grabbed the last roller and tried to pull myself up to the next roller in line, tried to drag my left knee up onto the platform. My body wasn’t responding, my legs didn’t feel like they were kicking. One of the crew helped me reach the next roller and climb out of the water. I walked up the platform, dripping wet—but not cold. Not once I got out of the water.

This interested me. The water was probably in the forties, considering the glacier dipped its frozen limb into it. The air, maybe upper 50’s. It was summer in Alaska, after all. I grabbed my pink raincoat and sandals and plucked a towel from the table by the stairs. Wrapping it around my shoulders, I made my way up to where my husband and others watched the jumpers. The hot tubs were full of the previous jumpers, so I walked back to our room for a hot shower.

Have you ever tried the “Polar Bear Plunge” that takes place in the United States in January? It’s a run into the ocean, usually. Yes! It does take courage. You need to remember it is momentary. It’s not like plunging into deep waters all at once, like we did off the ship. Plus, you’ve probably been in the ocean in the summertime. It’s not new water to you.

After lunch, humpback whales were sighted off the starboard side of our ship. Starboard is the righthand side of the ship. The water was roughly 1200 feet deep at this point, according to the captain.

Thanks for stopping by Camping with Five Kids. Have a healthy 2024, filled with fun adventures with the family. 

2 thoughts on “Have the Courage to Try Something New: A Polar Bear Plunge”

  1. I’ve seen people living up close to the arctic circle do it – run out to a hole in the frozen lake and jump in – on television. That looks way too cold! But getting out into warmer air would be better.
    Bet you are glad you both hiked and plunged.

    • Absolutely glad I hiked and plunged, Alex. Maybe those living near the arctic circle are used to frigid water. Me, I’m a Jersey Girl. I like warm water. If I had to “run” into the water, I’m not sure how far I would get before I turned around. The Alaska plunge was total submersion. It helped me to “just do it”!

      Always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Five Kids. Thanks for your comment. Have a beautiful day!


Leave a Comment