Dick Proenneke Letter

In 1996 I was living in a 12-foot trailer in Sterling, Alaska, behind a friend of mine’s house. He told me about a guy who was a friend of his friend that lived in a small cabin he built across Cook Inlet in Lake Clark National Park. He also said that some of his journals were published as a book in Alaska Geographic. On my next trip to town I sat at the Kenai library and read his journals for a few hours. I managed to track down his mailing address, and sent him a letter explaining that I was keen to learn about living in the bush. A few weeks later I received the letter below. I’ve had it stashed away in a file cabinet for a number of years.

Eventually those journals were published as a separate book, and a few years later I saw a video he had shot of building his cabin. Both the book and the videos were excellent, and he developed an international following after he passed away. The guy’s name was Dick Proenneke.

I’ve shown the letter to friends who have visited my house, and one of them said I should scan it and post it. Since we finally got one of those fancy printer/scanners, I scanned it this morning.

You can read for yourself below, or if you’d like to download a pdf of it you can get it here.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gil Palmer

    That’s a terrific keepsake and is consistent with the kind of generous soul I’ve always pictured Dick to be.

    I have Alone in the Wilderness on my hard drive. When life gets really tough I put my feet up and watch that restorative film, sometimes with a tear in my eye. When you can depend on virtually no one else in life, with the proper skills and attitude toward nature you can at least still depend on yourself. To me that’s the essence of bushcraft.

  • Thanks Gil. That’s a great definition of the essence of bushcraft.

  • Jay Schofield

    Thanks for posting that letter. What a fantastic sentiment from a true outdoorsman.

  • I agree Jay.

  • david

    A wonderful response, he asks more questions than he answers. Did you ever write him a second letter? Thanks for sharing this.

  • Hi David,
    I never did write him back. It was a busy summer, fishing until all hours in the midnight sun, etc. I agree, it was a wonderful response.

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