Dick Proenneke: Alone in the Wilderness


Recommended Posts


Is anyone else familiar with the king of wilderness living? This guy is my favorite because he doesn't have any fancy fabrics, no lightweight materials, and his tools don't even have handles until he makes them. He is oldschool and hardcore. He was 51 years old when he pulled this off, and it gives me a backache just watching him, lol. I say it's wilderness "living", because he's not out there to barely survive, he's out there to be alone. Intense.

[bBvideo 560,340:3omet1ax]


This is only a part of the movie he filmed of himself doing all this, called Alone in the Wilderness. YouTube used to have the entirety years ago, but it appears to be gone now. It looks like they're selling the DVD of it online, so maybe it got DMCA'd. Its a great film if you ever get to see it.

He eventually was chillin' in this thing that he made, with hand tools. It still exists and is a National Register Historic Site.


Take a good look at the hinges on that Dutch door. :shock:


The cabin is hand-made and is notable for its "remarkable craftsmanship" due to Proenneke's skill as a carpenter and wood worker, and because of the films he made of the complete construction procedure. The entire structure and most of the furnishings are made from materials in and about the site, from the gravel taken from the lake bed to create the cabin's base, to the trees he selected, cut down, and then hand-cut with interlocking joints to create the walls and roof rafter framing. The window openings were pre-planned and cut to suit. The fireplace and flue were made from stones he dug from around the site and meticulously mortared in place to create the chimney and hearth. He used metal containers for food storage—one-gallon cans were cut into basin shapes and buried below the frost line. This ensured that fruits and perishables could be stored for prolonged periods in the cool earth yet still be accessible when the winter months froze the ground above them. Proenneke's friend, bush pilot and missionary Leon Reid "Babe" Alsworth, returned periodically to bring food and orders that Proenneke placed through him to Sears.

Sure, he didn't force himself to eat bugs and twigs like these made-for-tv survival guys do today, but that wasn't his intention in the first place. Going by his skills, I'm sure he would've been able to do that just fine as well.

Dig it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just finished watching the entire documentary. Amazing what Proennecke did all by himself with only hand tools! The way he did those hinges on the door... He was a gifted carpenter that's for sure!

Near the end of the documentary, he's living at his cabin in the middle of the winter. Here's a quote from something he said:

On such a trip, snowshoes are a must. With no wind I could travel all day in -45 degrees, and be comfortable.

Comfortable in -45F!? But then maybe Proennecke is cut from a different material then most others. At some other time he says "And inside the cabin it's a toasty 40 degrees". 40F = 4.4C for those who are used to Celsius like myself. Since playing TLD I've been getting a bit of a feel for Fahrenheit <-> Celsius conversion. But when I said that I had to look it up to make sure I heard it correctly. 4.4C is toasty?

But I digress. I mentioned the quote because of the snowshoes. We need snowshoes! :P

Anyway, I can recommend the documentary to everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Klesh!

I found a link on YouTube to a series of 7 videos about Proenneke (the playlist says there are 9, but two of them are duplicates), but only the first two videos are from the Alone in the Wilderness film, one of which is the same video you linked to. Here's the


Anyway, they're all also very interesting. And I completely echo everything that elloco just said, too!

I'm definitely interested in getting the full-length movie now!

Thanks again,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, I'm glad you guys can dig it; you're very welcome! I stumbled on this guy years ago, and tell people about him whenever I get the chance. Clearly this lot here is probably more prone to appreciate Proenneke's skills than your average non-outdoorsman. I looked at his menu, crating rating over 9,000!

I would really love some kind of build-your-own-cabin element to this game. I wanna roleplay this dude! :idea:

Snowshoes would be great to craft.

With regards to the temperature. Lately were I live it's been bonechillingly cold (in the single digits F, with windchills in the -20's), and I can say that on the occasion where it gets to be 40F, it does feel toasty. Would I want to hang out in it? Probably not. You could for instance chop wood or do some activity outside though, without huge mittens and probably just a light overcoat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

My local PBS station plays this every year during their annual pledge drive. I have seen this probably 5 - 6 times and it is awesome and obviously he is the inspiration of my avatar. There is also an Alone in the Wilderness part 2. Seen that once. Not as good as the 1st one but still pretty good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Wow...this intrigued me right away. :D I just wanted to watch abit of this trailer video,with skipping some parts...but I felt in right away. :lol: I watched wholle video,with no skipping.And now I am going to search for more of Dick,on YouTube. :)

Thanx for sharing this one !! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.