Sunday, November 4, 2007
Cold water rolling and the sauna
Saturday at the Annual Grouse Kill event, four of us went out to work on our rolls in beautiful Lake O. As usual at this affair, no grouse were even threatened and the temperature of the air was identical to that of the water, roughly 42F. We had three dry suit wearers and me in my tuliq. GalwayGuy worked on his Norsaq (stick) rolls and came within inches (see photo) of hitting one. I did a couple basic layback rolls and a couple angel rolls and RonO did a couple laybacks, a forward roll and who knows what else. The ManFromSnowyLegs, the only non Greenland paddler, did a couple of rolls sans headgear and quickly headed for the beach with a classic ice cream headache. Fortunately for all of us, the sauna was only 30 feet from the beach, stoked and pushing 185F. The warm body parts and the frozen body parts quickly equalized in the dry heat.
The sauna is a tradition in the northland. Finnish immigrants came here to work the mines in the 19th century and introduced the sauna which was quickly embraced by the rest of us chronically chilly snow belt dwellers. I much prefer it to the hot tub and its accompanying chemicals added to prevent nasty stuff from blooming in the water. The sweat and rinse process really cleans your skin and I've never felt cleaner than when I've strolled out of a sauna, especially a classic wood fired setup. On Saturday it provided the perfect finish for an afternoon of playing in the cold water. It also helped explain to the non paddling, beer drinking spectators on the hill just how and why we would choose to tip over a perfectly upright kayak in a cold November lake in northern Wisconsin.