My family has owned lakeshore property in central Minnesota for more than 60 years. My uncles bought this property after serving in World War II. It steadily has been improved as the years passed. Because the lot was sparsely covered with trees, we started planting trees. I continue the practice of planting trees even today. We honor births, deaths and other significant events by planting trees.

In 1960 I helped my uncle plant thousands of Norway pine seedlings. I was 12 years old, sitting on a tree-planter, placing seedlings in a furrow that was closed by pinching tires. I grew up watching these trees mature and listening to their sounds in the wind. They now stand as a mature pine forest.

In 2010 a straight-line wind blew down more than 100 of our pines. After the trees snapped and fell down they looked like matchsticks, all in a line. I initially thought of the storm as a tragedy, but soon saw the opportunity.

The idea of building a wood-fired sauna was born. Family members helped harvest the logs. We cut them into lengths and let them dry for a season. The logs were then peeled and shaped for the construction process.

Having no experience building with logs, I bought a book called “The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition.” In the book I found a picture of wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg’s sauna near Ely. With a picture in my imagination and a chain saw in my hand, I went to work.

Today our family gathers in the sauna for a soak and a swim or a roll in the snow. The sauna’s covered porch has a canvas theater curtain where family and friends show off their talents.

And I still have more logs to build with. What’s next? How about a replica of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond?


Tell us about your favorite hideout, be it a lakeside lodge or a fish house. Email your story along with photos to Don’t forget your name, city of residence and the general vicinity of your cabin or campsite.