Vermont's cold winter weather is no match for the pluck of one group, which is devoted to enjoying the outdoors in a brave way — no matter the water temperature.
"It's so brain-clearingly refreshing," said Burlington artist Kath Montstream, who organizes the Red Hot Chilly Dippers. "We're never alone, we always watch each other's back, and it feels like such a great way to get through this pandemic."
Every day, the Red Hot Chilly Dippers take a quick dip into Lake Champlain — right alongside the ducks, sometimes.
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Participants in Tuesday's dip told NECN and NBC10 Boston it was incredibly invigorating.
"It's my third time, and every time, it gets better and better," said Chilly Dipper Tanya Talamante.
"You can just be in the moment, which is a great feeling right now," said Sarah Gordon, another Chilly Dipper.
The group rotates between different spots on the lake on different days, depending on wind and ice conditions.
"You get out and you feel, 'OK, I'm ready to start the day,'" said Elvira Tripp, who participated in Tuesday's dip from Perkins Pier. "Super energized, super happy!"
The prime motivation of the dippers is finding a moment of peace while spending time with friends — both old and new friends. After all, how could you not feel bonded to someone after braving a few minutes together in water that measured around 35 degrees Tuesday?
Large chunks of ice are often also something to contend with.
"Sometimes, you feel like you're in a margarita," joked Jennifer Harris, one of the dippers.
The Red Hot Chilly Dippers are now warming the hearts of a local charity, with a month of fundraising and attention-raising dips.
All throughout March, Montstream said she and others in her circle will be using social media posts to urge support of Spectrum Youth and Family Services, which offers a range of assistance to teens and young adults facing homelessness and other challenges.
You've probably heard the old claim that cold is merely a state of mind. For the Red Hot Chilly Dippers, that state is — somehow — euphoria.
"We do it for joy," Harris said of what motivates the group.