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.
He 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 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.