Alone in the Wilderness: The Homestead of Dick Proenneke

If you’ve ever won­dered if you have what it takes to sur­vive in the wilder­ness, meet Dick Proen­neke. At the age of 51, after a career as a mechan­ic and an hon­or­able ser­vice as a car­pen­ter for the U.S. Navy dur­ing World War II, Mr. Proen­neke set off into the wilder­ness of Alas­ka to test himself.

1He went to the Twin Lakes region, locat­ed across the Cook Inlet from Anchor­age. It is a pris­tine and wild place, with abun­dant wildlife and tow­er­ing glaciat­ed moun­tains that drop into sparkling clean and clear alpine lakes. He select­ed a remote home site along a lakeshore and felled the tim­ber that he would use to build a cab­in with only hand tools.

Proenneke-window-small-for-web-67-6kbProen­neke spent 16 months build­ing his cab­in. All the mate­ri­als that he used, from the tim­ber, to the grav­el foun­da­tion, to the stones for the fire­place, he har­vest­ed on site. His hand­made cab­in is an exquis­ite dis­play of crafts­man­ship, with dove­tailed cor­ners and a beau­ti­ful stone hearth.

Alone in the wilder­ness, he lived in the cab­in for the next 30 years. Now it is the cen­ter­piece of the Nation­al Reg­is­ter His­toric Dis­trict in Lake Clark Nation­al Park. For­tu­nate­ly for us, Proen­neke doc­u­ment­ed a video of the con­struc­tion of his cab­in and of his time in the wilderness.

What a badass.