Friday, February 5, 2016

Superb Wilderness Survival


There was a 50 year old man who went to the Alaska wilderness to see if he could survive for two years.  He made his own cabin and whittled his own utensils and stayed for 30 years!  Here’s what said about the book written about him:

“This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke's journals and with firsthand knowledge of his subject and the setting, Sam Keith has woven a tribute to a man who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond.  To live in a pristine land unchanged by man . . . to roam a wilderness through which few other humans has passed . . . to choose an idyllic site, cut trees by hand, and build a log cabin. . . to be self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials be not at odds with the world, but content with one's own thoughts, dreams and company.   Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. This book is a moving account of the day-to-day explorations and activities Dick carried out alone....alone in the wilderness...and the constant chain of nature's events that kept him company.”

Amazon Readers’ Reviews

5 Stars
To Do a Thing to Completion
By Ross E. Nelson on March 3, 2005

I can understand some people giving this book or the related video only three or four stars; this is one of those stories that depend heavily on the outlook you bring to them. Some might find Proenneke's feat mildly interesting but wonder why he did it. I found it enthralling.

You have to be fascinated by a man who seemed capable of creating almost anything he needed from raw materials using only hand tools. He carves out wooden spoons; builds his log home; turns gas cans into buckets, pots, and in-ground coolers; builds a cache on stilts; works up sturdy door hinges from stumps; and on and on. In our age of repetitive assembly of the same part or being a small cog in a service industry machine, in an age of such specialization even American farmers whose granaries overflow run to the supermarket for bread and then complain about the price, in an age of abundance that comes at the price of over-dependence on others, Richard Proenneke reached a satisfying level of self-reliance now nearly extinct.

I'm reminded of the "Little House on the Prairies" book series in which father Ingalls briefly laments having moved to South Dakota where he was dependent on the railroad trains to bring in food and fuel, compared to the days of self-sufficiency in the woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Proenneke's dream isn't for everyone. Imagine trying to do what he did if your skills are incomplete or you have a family to bring up. Living in the middle of wild Alaska would be more suffering than fulfilment. But what a dream to have, in which you turn your back on the rat race and build what you need to live from start to finish, or as Proenneke says "to do a thing to completion." His accomplishments give me daydream release from the tedious grind of bills and mindless work.

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5 Stars
Some great lessons from a great man -- Ten stars
By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 4, 2005

Having a family member who was a bush pilot I came to know Richard Proenneke, who was a lot like my Dad in so many ways and most of the people I grew up with.

After watching the PBS special about Richard Proenneke this is a book I wanted to own and it's much more interesting in my opinion than the video PBS showed since it goes into deeper detail on how he came to be in Alaska and the day to day life Richard Proenneke lived which was remote and physically celibate aside from an occasional mail/food drop.

Unlike so many books on remote living one doesn't read about wild life becoming a danger, but one reads of man and wildlife living in harmony and a man taking only what he needs when it comes to hunting and not letting any of the animal go to waste. Thus its a lesson in environmental living.

Also loved the book because its a lesson in the whole 'how to' attitude that is lost on so many Americans who demand a soft life. It was a joy to read how eating simple, using the outdoors to stay physically, mentally and spiritually healthy which cost Richard Proenneke little. Was a joy to read and see such wonderful photographs of a man who built his own cottage, made his own storage for meat, gathered his own fuel, and lived contently for decades, even though he only set out to test himself to see if he could last less than two years in a remote area in such frontier ways.

There are some valuable lessons to be learned here for the many soft living Americans I know, who never look beyond themselves and the bigger picture. Thankfully I know a good number of Richard Proenneke like people. The book should challenge the reader in at least a few ways.

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