Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Alone in the Wilderness
Richard Louis "Dick" Proenneke (May 4, 1916–April 28, 2003) was a naturalist who lived alone in the high mountains of Alaska at a place called Twin Lakes. Living in a log cabin he constructed by hand, Proenneke made valuable recordings of both meteorological and natural data.
On May 21, 1968, Proenneke arrived at his new place of retirement at Twin Lakes. Before arriving at the lakes, he made arrangements to use a cabin on the upper lake of Twin Lakes owned by a retired Navy captain, Spike Carrithers, and his wife Hope from Kodiak. This cabin was well situated on the lake and close to the site which Proenneke chose for the construction of his own cabin. Proenneke's bush pilot friend, Babe Alsworth, returned occasionally to bring food and orders that Proenneke placed through him to Sears.
Proenneke remained at Twin Lakes for the next 16 months, when he left to go home for a spell to visit relatives and secure more supplies. He returned to the lakes in the following spring and remained there for most of the next 30 years, coming to the lower 48 only occasionally to be with his family.
In 1999, at age 82, Proenneke returned to civilization and lived the remainder of his life with his brother in California. He died of a stroke April 28, 2003 at the age of 86. He left his cabin to the National Park Service and it remains today as a popular visitor attraction in the still-remote Twin Lakes region.
In 1973, Sam Keith wrote the book One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, based on Proenneke's journals and photography. After years in print and a re-edition, the book won the 1999 National Outdoor Book Award. In 2005, some of Proenneke's film, Alone in the Wilderness, began appearing on U.S. Public Television. Primarily, the film consists of shots of Proenneke performing tasks around his cabin, canoeing and walking, and views of wildlife, along with narration. (read more)