I'll Never Forget The Time I Plunged Bare Naked Into The Pacific Ocean

Photo: haunted Luminous / Shutterstock
jumping into water
Contributor
Self

It was a rainy morning on a beach in Lane County Oregon, at 6:05 AM. I was the first to stir after a long night of twists and sharp turns driving to the coast. I and a couple of buddies had spent the last two weeks traveling in a sprinter van across the country.

The trip there had been no easy journey. We had explored 4 national parks, backpacked our fair share of rugged terrain in Yellowstone, and had the pleasure of sleeping many nights in Walmart and truck parking lots.

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Now, we had finally arrived at our destination. It was our first time ever on the West Coast. I was stoked to say the least — even if it was cloudy and drizzling outside. It didn’t take me long to devise the perfect plan to commemorate my first time at the Pacific. Such a monumental place called for a monumental moment.

I scanned the parking lot of Heceta Head Lighthouse to confirm the coast was clear. I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed to park there without a permit. Of course, a quick google search just now revealed that there was a $5 parking fee and our ignorance could’ve cost us a fat ticket.

But at that time, the coast was clear, no rangers or other cars in sight and I figured the parking lot would remain vacant well after we had left. Oh, how I was wrong.

Attempting not to wake anyone (I’d prefer they didn’t see what was about to unfold), I tiptoed my way across the futon, precisely placing my feet between two bodies sprawled out in slumber. Out of sheer luck, I found both my towel and Go-Pro nestled together by the sliding side door. I grabbed them, clicked open the door as quietly as possible, and snuck out without a peep.

Immediately I was hit with a fresh waft of ocean air along with a drizzle of chilly rain. It was still early and cloudy and there was no sign of the sun overhead. A shiver in my tee-shirt made me have second thoughts about what I was about to do but now there was no going back.

“This might be your only opportunity to do this ever so you better seize it now,” I thought to myself.

Somehow, whoever was driving the night before had found the perfect parking spot. We were only about 10 yards away from the beach and another 100 from the ocean. I walked on the sand barefoot until I was about halfway from the surf. Now was my time to shine.

Stripping down to nothing, I laid my towel and clothes on the beach, then hit ‘record’ on my GoPro — not that I needed to, the moment will be forever vividly etched in my mind.

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I broke out into a run, no a sprint — the only way to plunge into 50-degree water. I find sometimes it's better to not think things out too logically or you’ll talk yourself out of it. A few seconds later my feet breached the frigid water. I jumped and hoped for the best as I dove in headfirst.

A rush of cold that I had never felt before enveloped me, invigorating my soul. Any tiredness was washed away along with the aches and pains from the trail.

My body was chilled to the bone while my mind was in ecstasy. I played like a child, jumping, and spinning back and forth in the expanse of deep blue liquid while two monolithic rocks peering down at me from either side. My voice oscillated from laughing to shouts of joy as the universe embraced me in my most vulnerable state. 

I had never before felt so alive.

After about a minute of pure bliss, (which seemed like an eternity at the moment) I parted with the ocean. From there my clothes appeared farther than I had intended to place them. It was still rainy, gloomy and the parking lot was invisible due to a cover of fog.

I ran as fast as my thawing muscles would allow to my towel with my clothes. The whole event had only taken about 3 maybe 5 minutes if you count the walk from the van and I was convinced my friends would still be asleep.

“I did it; I hopped into the Pacific and avoided the embarrassment of others seeing my naked flesh,” — or so I thought.

Only when I finally reached my belongings did I notice the filled parking lot. Miraculously, 5 vehicles had materialized all within that short period as if out of thin air. I threw my towel around my waist, grabbed my bundle of clothes, and then rushed to the van sheepishly avoiding eye contact with the onlookers.

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Sure enough, when I made it inside, all my buddies were awake laughing hysterically. I clothed myself while a friend hopped in the driver’s seat and drove away before any cops or rangers could arrive.

Even though my plunge didn’t go exactly as planned, I have no regrets. Jumping nude into the Pacific ocean was one of the most thrilling experiences and I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

There’s something primal about dipping into a freezing body of water with nothing but bare skin. Your thoughts temporarily cease and you feel completely free. I can’t wait for the next time I travel to the West coast.

Although this time I’ll be sure to do my research to find a more secluded beach.

Go Pro footage of the plunge by me:

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Jesse Pedersen is a writer and musician. You can find him on Spotify or follow him on Twitter.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.