Sometimes a sauna is just meant to happen.
I remember the first time I'd encountered a sauna. I was seventeen. I worked for the summer with the Youth Conservation Corp maintaining trails in the Adirondack Mountains. Our work schedule demanded us to go out into a wilderness setting every other week. When we weren’t out living in our tent city, we’d stay in dorms at Star Lake Campus. The campus itself was made up of a number of buildings- dorms, mess hall, community hall, and, of course, a sauna house. The appeal of the sauna wasn’t exactly health related at this time in my life (in fact, I think it was all about hanging out half naked with a bunch of other teens…maybe proving I was tough enough to “stand the heat”). So, loving saunas from my introduction makes sense.
Some years later, my brother Mark came to visit me in Colorado. He spent his last birthday on this planet hanging out with me (he had cancer and wouldn’t make it to his twenty- fifth). I’d arranged for us to go to a Native American sweat in the neighboring town of Mancos. More of a religious experience than a sauna, Mark told me afterwards, “My pain went away.” I’ve been to many Native sweat since, some very traditional and some not so, but this was the most meaningful (you’re missed, Mark).
My encounter with Morgellons Disease in my early forties turned me into a detox nut (and who wouldn’t be after going through such a horrific set of symptoms!). I purchased a two-man infrared sauna for my home in Wellsboro, PA. I spent many nights sweating in this box and, when I moved, sold it to a man trying to recover from cancer.
When I started to house hunt in Cortez, I keep in mind my desire to have a sauna. Maybe even build one. I didn’t exactly know how it’d play out, but I kept it in mind. Buying my fixer-upper on Beech Street lead me to finding a house mate who had building experience, which eventually lead Tony to finding the room hidden under the front steps of the house (okay, this last sentence is an extremely condensed version of how this all played out…but it’d take way too long to tell the whole story. Forgive me.)
The room under the steps is about four feet by eight feet. It seemed destined to become a sauna. I found a sauna heater and cedar door for sale online and drove to Ridgeway, CO to retrieve these last weekend. Tony jack-hammered out a doorway from the basement into the mystery room this past week. Today, I bucketed out all of the rubble from the entryway creation. It's a lot of work!
The sauna may not be finished for some time. I step in through the doorway and picture a light and heater in place. Will there be room for three or four? I’m not certain how it will play out. So much sweat has gone into the project so far- how could I not title this Sweat Equity?