Authentic Sauna Blog

California dreaming of a Northern Minnesota winter sauna. Complete with cold plunge

saunatimes guest post series continues. Mike from Northern MN.

Enter Mike:

Dear Saunatimes regulars,

I had a great sauna experience recently that is worth sharing.

A friend was home from California with his girlfriend, who had never experienced winter in Minnesota. My buddy is the kind of person we should all be lucky enough to call “friend.” As we get older, we see less of each other but it doesn’t seem to matter. When we get together, the clock turns back thirty years and we’re the same kids who grew up across the street from one another.

He called in December to let me know he was coming home and mentioned that he wanted to share some cold-weather fun with his girlfriend. He wondered if I would host a sauna and maybe some ice fishing during their visit. The last time he was home was August and we enjoyed several rounds with aswim in the lake between rounds.

This time it was January and we started our day at twelve below zero on the edge of a frozen lake.driving across the lake to sauna

We kidded his girlfriend that she should open her car door and leave one foot hanging out just in case we went through the ice. The look on her face was priceless. We drove out a mile or so with the ice booming and cracking below. She ran the ice auger and quickly reeled up a decent sized Northern–the biggest catch of her life. The morning passed quickly in the little fish house with laughs, stories, and a bloody Mary complete with a local meat product for a stir stick.

We re-convened in the late afternoon to drive North to the cabin for dinner and a sauna.

winter outhouse usage

Our new friend was somewhat excited to use an outhouse for the first time.  She was also curious to try a sauna in below-zero weather, as her previous sauna experience was limited to hotels and health clubs. I lit the sauna and stoked the firebox as we headed for the local pizza place. An hour and a half later, it was twenty below outside but 175° in the hot room. We settled in for our first round–the veterans on the upper bench and the rookie down near the floor. We chattered back and forth and then lapsed into the easy silence that comes with the first blast of steam. Several more ladles of water onto the rocks drove us from the hot room into the icy air outside. My friend and I fist bumped.

Twenty below zero and we were standing under a starry sky, steam billowing.

The girls soon came giggling out into the cold but didn’t stay long. Soon enough we were all back in the sauna for round two. What a great way to showcase winter in Minnesota. It’s safe to say that on that night we gained a new friend as well as a new member of the sauna tribe.

Cheers, my friends, and keep the steam going.


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