Skinny Dipping Therapy
Welcome to Crazytown
Call me crazy. Seriously. It’s fine. I’m 100% crazy. 111% on a good day.
If you’ve been following me on my adventure thus far, this should come as no surprise to you. If you’re new to the Honey Huntress Adventures… Welcome to Crazytown.
Let me just be clear that by “My Crazy”, I mean: unconventional, against the norm, wild, weird, somewhat compulsive, driven by passions, in love with in nature, and not afraid of living. To me, in our society, this defines me as crazy and I am totally okay with that.
One of my favorite crazy things to do is find a river valley where no one is watching, hike until I discover a perfect entry point, strip off all my clothes, and jump in! A wild woman’s way to experience nature’s cryotherapy.
But this crazy doesn’t start there.
Polar Bear Plunge
Okay, so I’m not this crazy! Growing up in Wisconsin, it seemed to be an annual winter tradition to jump in a frozen lake somewhere. With snow and ice, groups of people take the plunge into freezing water.
Why? Why would someone put themselves through that extreme temperature? I didn’t get it.
Then, I recall during swimming lessons as a kid, our instructor would challenge us to run outside and jump in the snow, and then come back in the pool… which would magically feel much much warmer after the snow bath!
This invigoration could feel life-threatening, but for many it is life-enhancing. Maybe this is what sparked my compulsion to search out these experiences for myself later in life.
When I lived in South Korea in 2009, I was introduced to a jjimjilbang (public bath house). These typically have different pools, saunas, steam rooms, and more. Often they have hot tubs and cool pools near each other, so you can alternate the temperatures going from a hot tub soak to a cold plunge in a matter of seconds.
In retrospect, I would have visited these bath houses much more often during my time there, but the few times I explored these strange wet worlds, I would personally challenge myself to go from one temperature extreme to another.
This is a practice Tony Robbins says he starts his days with, and I completely understand why. Besides “waking his ass up”, it is very possible that this practice can help to improve circulation and muscle recovery. In addition, the mental training that occurs when you can erase fear and the hesitation to act when understanding you’re about to experience something extreme is incredibly empowering.
Though most people who think about Hawai’i imagine warm sandy ocean beaches, I imagine deep, ancient, fresh water river valleys. When living in the Northshore jungle on Maui, I learned how to navigate places like Iao Valley, and other valleys on the Road to Hana. I would scurry through thick vegetation and river rock hop my way along the bank until I found my perfect pool for a cool submerge.
Though the water was still cold, the temperature extremes in Hawai’i were a little less intimidating. Especially after a hot hike through mosquito infested jungle… there ain’t nothing like diving into a fresh, cool river. It became a regular activity for me, and when I became a private tour guide, I would ‘WOW’ mainlanders with my ability to jump into the rivers and waterfalls without hesitation, while they would shudder at the temperature with a touch of their toe.
This is my superpower.
With my return to the mainland in 2016, I missed the rush of my jungle valley swimming adventures. I came back to Wisconsin with new abilities, and though I wasn’t about to join a polar bear plunge, I began my mission in warmer months to find sunny rivers with no one around for my cold water therapy. Just because I was no longer on a tropical island, didn’t mean I couldn’t create my own paradise.
I plunged into a handful of rivers and lakes during my year back in Wisconsin, but the real score came with the job I took on a guest ranch in the Colorado Rockies. I literally had a mountain river in my backyard. I think my second day there I found a trail up the bank to a perfect plunge point, and every chance after I would make this my swimming pool along with a couple pristine lakes near by (lakes usually require a swimsuit due to the more public and exposed environment…but, not always).
When I moved to Denver at the end of last summer, I didn’t have much time left in the season to explore the surrounding areas to designate many secret swimming holes, but was able to get in a couple quick dips. The second this spring hit, I reignited my search to find the best spots around.
Recently, on a solo adventure out to Clear Creek Canyon, I found the most perfect pull-off, with a trail leading down to the snow-fed river. This may have been my coldest plunge yet, and one I wasn’t completely confident I could accomplish. But these ones are the best ones, because once you do it… you win! For me, nothing is more empowering.
When I don’t know the area well, often timing is everything to ensure I don’t draw an audience for my bare bottom maneuvers into the freezing water and back out again. I like to think I’m pretty stealth with this, but I have definitely had some close calls. I’m not one to be embarrassed by my nudity, but there is a privacy that is appreciated when I practice this therapy. It is a ritual, a meditation, and a revelation. I learn more about myself every time I surrender and survive something extreme. I grow stronger, I become more capable, I fear less, I live more.
The places where the signs say stay on the path are where I know the greatest adventures lie if I diverge from the direction of the masses. This lesson often translates into a metaphor for my life, and I am so grateful to share this crazy adventure with you.
When adventuring in nature solo, ALWAYS let someone know where you are going to be. DO NOT attempt unless you are a confident swimmer and very comfortable maneuvering in nature. It is important that you understand how to read weather and the movements in the river. I have a lot of experience observing conditions for flash floods and strong currents from my tour guide days in Hawai’i, and I would never attempt this activity if there were any warning signs. Rivers can be extremely dangerous if you don’t know what to look for, so please do not attempt this unless you have the abilities.
Please also note, going from one extreme temperature to another can be too much for some people’s bodies, especially with pre-existing heart conditions. Do not attempt unless you are totally sure that your body can handle these extremes.
Lastly, If you do try skinny dipping therapy, you must tell me of your adventure!
Today, as I’m about to post this, I open Facebook and see that my memory from exactly 1 year ago is my first skinny dip of the season up in the mountains. How neat is that?!