He was originally introduced to the Twin Lakes area, by friends he made while working at the Navy Base at Kodiak.
A retired Navy Captain and his wife, Spike and Hope Caruthers, who had a cabin there, invited Dick to the area, and loaned him the use of their cabin.
He clears the brush and lays down a gravel base that he hauls from the lake. Among the tools he brought in to build the cabin as well as for survival was a 36 to 40 inch one man tree saw, with teeth filed for softwoods which were predominant in the area, a metal frame style tree saw, a double bladed axe and a hatchet. There is also a shot of him filing an adze, an adze that he was also shown to use like a light sledgehammer when building sawhorses. It is hard to see his axe in any shot when it is not in motion, but if you are used to seeing what a good axe looks like, the area near the blade has been filed down to a thinner profile. Proenneke Photo I am originally from logging country in the Pacific Northwest.
Among the many things Dick was, he was a very talented woodsman and woodworker.
The first forty minutes of the largely autobiographical video “Alone in the Wilderness” depict him building his cabin from the spruce logs he felled the year before.
His life in the ranching business probably helped him understand nature and wildlife on an intuitive level, and his life as a carpenter and mechanic probably prepared him with the self-sufficiency needed for the next phase of his life.
He retired at age 51 to Twin Lakes, living as a naturalist, nature cinematographer, and scientific observer in the remote Alaska wilderness.
For many, this is an excellent opportunity to see a trained carpenter from the old school, go about his work with hand tools, and without drawings.