Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Mark's Killer Banya's
In the past 2 1/2 years, since we've owned and rented out the house next door, we've been taking lots of banya's. A Banya is a steam room, similar to a sauna. It is a small enclosure with a woodstove and rocks piled on the woodstove. Once the rocks are heated up and the room is to temperature, you splash (or sprinkle) water on the rocks which creates steam. This causes a surge of warm air to the room.
Our friend, Mark, makes the most killer banyas.
Mark R. is a nearly permanent fixture here at the Saltonstall household. He typically spends anywhere from 1-2 months a year here in Kodiak, doing archaeology work (and hunting!) with Patrick. He comes up from California and has been coming to Kodiak since 1993 and staying at our house since 2001.
Mark makes banyas HOT. He doesn't mess around. He typically fires it up after dinner, and it takes 1+ hours to get it heated. Then we have the ladies go in first and men after us for the banya. And in typical banya fashion, nude. Swimsuits feel icky and sticky.
When I first started taking the banya's 130 deg or 140 would feel hot. Now, that is cool to me. Mark has toughened up my banya taking abilities. Now I prefer short bursts of heat in the 160-170 degree range-I know its warm enough when we're inching into the "red" zone on the banya thermometer. This means you stay in for a few minutes, step outside to cool off, then go back in. And repeat over and over again. This is supposed to be the way to really cleanse your system--several cycles of hot, then cold.
Winter is my favorite time for Banyas; the cold air is such a great contrast with the strong heat. There are occasionally days in the Alaksan winter when no matter what I do to warm up (tea, warm socks, etc...), it just isn't quite enough. And thats where the banya comes in.
Mark is here for 2 weeks and is firing up the banya tonight. Looking forward to sweating out some toxins in the heat!