Local News

January 1, 2014

Piercing plunge on New Year’s Day, the sequel

I was prepared this year.

Or so I thought.

I had plunged in the piercingly cold waters of the lake at Fort Mountain State Park last year on New Year’s Day. So I knew I could tackle the second annual Black Bear Plunge this year.

I knew what it was like to run across the icy sand and into the water. I knew that the cold water slows down your muscle movement and makes your breathing shallow so swimming is a challenge. I knew what it was like to swim numb.

Yet, I was confident I could do it again. This year I knew what to expect.

However, this year the mountain was was several degrees colder. I don’t know how much colder, but it was definitely colder.

“I enjoyed (the Black Bear Plunge) last year and it was a challenge,” said participant Rhonda Bryant. “It’s colder this year, and the wind wasn’t a factor last year.”

The water temperature was estimated to be about the same. No one had a water thermometer this year, but during the plunge in 2013, it was 38 degrees.

Others around me who had participated last year echoed the same thought as we wrapped towels around us to guard our cold, wet skin from the wind.

Last year when I thought I was about to hyperventilate because of the shallowness of my breath — a result of the combination of the cold and my excitement — I looked over to see my childhood friend Melinda Flood swimming beside me, and I knew I was OK. I reached the yellow barrier that separates the beach area from the rest of the lake then turned back to shore.

This year, Melinda turned back a few feet from the barrier.

As it turned out, I couldn’t reach that line without her at my side. I swam about two strokes beyond her, realized I was on the verge of hyperventilating and turned back to shore, toward my warm towel and terrycloth bathrobe that awaited me.

“I was planning to go all the way,” said Melinda, an organizer of the event and secretary of the Friends of Fort Mountain State Park who hosts the plunge. “I didn’t make it.”

Same here. I had planned to reach the barrier, but I just didn’t make it. As my husband, Chris Wheeler, pointed out, I made it further than him. He stood on shore snapping photos, bundled in a warm coat and gloves.

There were 46 people who swam with us Wednesday morning. Some participated last year, but there were  new participants as well.

“I face-planted first thing. I was in flippers,” said Tara Bates, of Rocky Face, laughing at herself after the plunge.

This was her first attempt at the cold waters.

“That was fun,” she said. “It took my breath first thing. I couldn’t breathe.”

Bates said she plans to attend next year’s plunge as well.

“I always wanted to do something like this,” she said. “It is definitely a challenge.”

Bates convinced her son’s girlfriend, Raven Hughey, of Dalton, to join her.

“I said OK,” Hughey said. “It will go on the list of the stupid things I did in life. It’s a new year — why not jump in?”

Participant Brian Trout, of Chatsworth, decided “twice is enough.”

As I continue the fight to bring feeling to my toes, three hours after I exited the water, I’m wondering if twice is enough for me too.

Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    Money.
    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos