Above: Brian Olenych, fresh out of the sauna, is warm enough for anything in Arkville on Saturday, Feb. 14. Photos courtesy of Marcia Olenych.
This February is in the top five of the coldest Februarys on record, according to the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
It's been single-digit temperatures all month, with killer wind chills on top.
Pipes are freezing across the Catskills, causing water shut-offs in Kingston, Phoenicia, the town of Ulster, Schoharie and Oneonta.
And cold has been linked to countless fires in the region (in Margaretville, Delhi, Big Indian and New Paltz, just to name a few) that appear to have been caused by malfunctioning heating systems.
In Arkville, the Olenych family has decided to fight the cold Finnish-style, with a sauna that they've constructed right in front of their Mountain Flame store on Route 28. This past Saturday, Feb. 14, they treated drivers to a decidedly unusual site: near-naked people in bathing suits and towels emerging from the sauna to walk, barefoot, on the snow.
The building was made by Rudd Hubbell and Alta Log Homes working together as East Branch Sauna, and it's heated with a wood stove made by Finnleo. (Mountain Flame, a Watershed Post advertiser, sells woodstoves, so building a sauna in front of their store is a business strategy.)
Below: Jake Olenych strolls through single-digit temperatures to the sauna, and (bottom) Rudd Hubbell and Barb Taylor stoke the fire on Feb. 14.