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Testing the Waters in 2016: First Day Hike in Texas State Parks

Estefana Galindo of Monahans warms up after the her swim, January 1, 2016.

Some rang in the New Year sleeping in late on January 1st. Others - following the advice of Texas State Parks - went on a hike.One state park in West Texas tried something different.

The year 2016 is not more than eight hours old and more than a dozen people are warming up with a Dutch-oven oatmeal breakfast. Most are from Texas - "Bandera, Dallas, Midland, Midland" - and all have wet hair. It’s the First Day Polar Plunge at Balmorhea State Park.

Mark and Sendra are a couple from Australia, who heard about it at a New Year’s Eve party, "Ah, in Joe’s Bar last night." He wasn’t the only one who hadn’t done advance planning for the event. Here’s Estefana Galindo from Monahans.

" I did not plan on going to the pool. So, I wore jogging shorts and a sports bra." And on her feet? "Absolutely nothing." And that’s what hurt the most. "Just walking on my bare feet on the cold concrete and my cold skin. It was painful."

Because the pool is fed by an artesian spring, it keeps a constant temperature year round – 74 degrees. But it’s the outside air that’s memorable – below freezing on New Years Day. "Driving there it was about 33," said Galindo, "but once I got to the actual park, my truck said it was 28 degrees." Perfect conditions, says Karl Coughlin, the Park Superintendent, "What made it more special was we had sub-30 degree temperature and nice cold rain today."

Mark from Australia has one word to describe the plunge: "Exhilarating."


Former KRTS/KXWT News Director