Richard Proenneke lived alone for 30 years in the Alaskan wilderness in a cabin he built himself

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I was given the DVD and companion book as a Winter Solstice gift a year or two ago, and have since watched the film twice and enjoyed it both times. If you’re the kind of person who likes watching both nature documentaries and home construction videos, you’d probably like it.


The Documentary on this is fascinating, I remember watching it as a kid and then again when they redid it for the local PBS station.

The film is a lot of fun, and after seeing it I picked up his first book. It’s mostly a diary, and quite engaging.

My favorite part is about how, as he was planning to make the move to the bush, he decided on what he would bring with him. He knew he would need an axe, but to conserve weight he decided to bring only an axe head, and not a handle, knowing that he could make a handle using just the head and wood he would scavenge. That’s a man that knows how to make things, and is confident in his skills.


Watching him build his house is a bit like watching a ‘so satisfying’ channel on youtube.


One of my favorite parts is when he sets out to build his fireplace. The first step is cutting a bear size hole in the side of his little house! Talk about balls! Its brave to cut a hole in the side of your house heading in to winter, and with bears and other critters around. Thats commitment!

I’ve always taken courage from this when I do jobs around the house. Shit - if he can cut a bear size hole for a fireplace, then surely I can drill a hole for this exhaust fan!


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