By Steve Polston
My outdoor-loving friends are burning the social network wires with not only comments about an anticipated happy new year, and resolutions to buy new iPhones, but plans to find an icy hike, bike ride or plunge into water.
My former colleague at the Richmond Palladium-Item, Pam Tharp, reported Monday that today’s 25th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Brookville Lake in Franklin County is canceled.
Tharp’s article in the Palladium-Item said that fees would be charged by the federally owned property’s managers to cover parking, safety and comfort stations. The barely organized event had become so big – as many as 500 people walked across the tailwaters last year – that extra precautions and preparations needed to be made in the small picnic area surrounding the tailwaters.
Unfortunately, because no money ever was collected from participants, there was no money to pay the costs this year, which would have been the 25th annual dip.
My first time at this event was 1988, when I was a reporter at the Richmond, Ind. newspaper. I’ve attended as a spectator for many years.
The best bet for anybody expecting to make this dip today is to not attempt to walk across the trench where the tailwaters from the icy federal flood control dam and lake enter the local waterways. Federal officials will not slow the flow of water this year, which helps people wade safely across the trench. They said the amount of water behind the dam is signinficantly greater this year than in previous years due to a very rainy autumn.
I always enjoyed the flash-mob ethic that pervaded the plunge at Brookville – it was a party that gathered briefly for a purpose then dispersed. But without a plan to provide for safety, this can be a dangerous place, deceptively so.
Best bet for something to do today is take a First Day Hike at a state or federal recreation area, such as at McCormick’s Creek State Park in Owen County. It’s an easy drive from Bloomington on SR 46; a short drive east of Spencer.
The plan is for an ice hike today at McCormick’s Creek State Park with an emphasis on making this a photo safari. In case of inclement weather, call (812) 829-4344 for potential cancellation. Meet at the Canyon Inn at 2 p.m. Admission is free today.
More information about the national program for first day hikes is online at www.americasstateparks.org.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is at 250 McCormick’s Creek Park Road, Spencer, 47460.