A Proper Sauna

It’s in our bones

Mitchell Peterson
5 min readSep 11, 2023
Keweenaw Peninsula sauna. Photo by ViennaGlenn.

Note to readers: My work has shifted to another website and all posts are at Substack.com. This is simply an introduction for my former Medium.com audience.

Follow the link below to subscribe to 18 Uncles and follow the journey. There you can find all 18 Uncles articles, pictures, and support the dream.

Wood — often cedar, a touch of smoke, and a hint of must: that’s the smell of a proper sauna. Every one is a positive for humanity, but the best saunas are ancient, tiny stand-alone buildings the size of a shed or small garage; they have a little changing room with colorful old rag rugs covering a cement floor, thin embroidered curtains over small windows, and wooden hooks at eye level holding faded beach towels, random swimwear, and the odd pair of goggles.

The perfect saunas are within fifty yards of a cold body of water — Lake Superior being the ultimate.

And because people are running between the lake and the hot wooden benches, a great sauna has a shallow bucket near the door with water scooped directly from the lake…



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.