When people praise the Smokies, it’s often the area’s status as a four-season bonanza of beauty that spurs the discussion. From snow-blanketed winters to vibrant-leafed autumns, these mountains dress to impress year-round.
Around 30 daring souls splashed and jumped into Lake Junaluska last Saturday for the first annual “Polar Plunge” to raise money for Haywood Waterways Kids in the Creek program.
Well, it might not exactly live up to the name "Polar Plunge" given the current spate of warm weather, but the dive — no, make that wade — into Bear Lake next week will help go toward paying for and helping with a really good cause.
This is the second time the Polar Plunge has been held, and registration is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at the boat launch. The plunge itself begins at 11:15 a.m.
The first Polar Plunge into Bear Lake took place about a year and-a-half ago, said organizer Abigail Clayton of the Jackson County Recreation/Parks Department.
The "donation" of $30 goes to benefit Special Olympics of N.C.
Music and food is scheduled from noon until 1:30 p.m.
Clayton said that actually, even this time of year when March seems fairly warm and balmy, the water is quite frigidly cold.
"I did the one that we had before, and it really takes your breath away," Clayton said. "Some people swim around in the lake. But I was just pretty happy to get out of the lake."
Last year, you could jump into Bear Lake. This year, the lake is lower.
"People will have to run in this year, it's kind of low," Clayton said. "They'll go out to their knees."
Among those participating will be Sue Evans of Sylva, who plunged last time around, too — or at least, she waded out up to her knees.
"Does that count? But, it was exciting," Evans said, adding that the event is a cause that's near and dear to my heart.
Her daughter has special needs, Evans said, and "this is a family affair for us."
In addition to Evans and her daughter, her husband, niece and grandson will join in the polar plunge, dressed appropriately for St. Paddy's Day.
"Plungers" receive Polar Plunge T-shirts. Prospective plungers can register at the Jackson County Recreation/Parks Department or at the event.
Bear Lake Road is off N.C. 281, 4.2 miles south of the intersection of N.C. 107 and N.C. 281.