In 2012 I became familiar with the detailing of a man’s life who had determined to retire into the remote reaches of the Alaska wilderness. His name was Dick Proenneke and today his cabin still stands as a popular tourist site; well maintained by the forest service. Proenneke found absolute bliss in the beauty and solitude of his surroundings and led a life that many of us wish we could emulate. Below I have attached a link to a series of clips from a documentary later aired on ABC concerning the man’s life. I hope you will seek out more information on this sensational man and the legacy he left behind. In studying him we can find tools that will give us hands on satisfaction and tools that might someday save our lives.
Proenneke retired to the Twin Lakes region of Alaska on May 21, 1968. He had made arrangements to a cabin on the upper lake which was owned by retired Navy captain Spike Carrithers which would be referred to as Spike’s cabin. Proenneke would use this as his temporary home while he constructed his own cabin.
Utilizing his talents as a carpenter, the entire structure was built purely with materials on hand; gravel retrieved from the lake bed, felled and hand worked timbers, and stones dug from around the site for use in his chimney and hearth. One gallon metal containers were cut into basin shapes and buried below the frost line, thus ensuring prolonged storage of fruits and perishables for prolonged periods in the cool earth while still being readily accessible when the winter months froze the ground above them. Food and additional supplies were flown in by a friend and bush pilot Babe Alsworth.
Proenneke would remain at Twin Lakes for most of the next 30 years following construction of his cabin; leaving to spend occasional time with his family in the lower 48 states. As an armature videographer Proenneke would document his experience and leave detailed journal writings which would later be assembled into the documentary Alone in the Wilderness.
Branson, John (2006). More Readings From One Man’s Wilderness, The journals of Richard L. Proenneke 1974-1980. National Park Service.