Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke (May 4, 1916 – April 20, 2003) was an amateur naturalist who lived alone for nearly thirty years in the mountains of Alaska in a log cabin he had constructed by hand near the shore of Twin Lakes. Proenneke hunted, fished, raised and gathered his own food, and also had supplies flown in occasionally. He documented his activities in journals and on film, and also recorded valuable meteorological and natural data.
The following is the 57 minute self-made documentary shot by Mr. Proenneke entitled “Alone in the Wilderness”. This is one of my favorite pieces of wilderness living film and each time I watch it I am amazed and astounded at the vast set of skills, the motivation, and dedication that it took for someone to live off the land.
Dick’s cabin on Twin Lakes is now on the National Register of Historic Sites and is located within Lake Clark
National Park & Preserve in Alaska.
The gazetteer that lives in my truck gets pretty abused. It is stored between the seat and the console and gets used a LOT. My wife and I are both map junkies so she is pretty much always looking up various geographic features when we’re headed to a camping spot or trailhead. As such the edges of our standard Benchmark Montana Road & Recreation Atlas are dog-eared and the pages all show signs of wear.
In order to prolong the life of this handy and oft used book I spent some of my afternoon after I had finished my work for the week sewing a simple non-coated, 1000d Cordura nylon cover. I bound the upper and lower edges, added a 2″x3″ loop panel to the front so I can adorn it with various velcro patches, and attached a length of 550 cord with a bright orange webbing piece affixed to the end to act as a permanently attached bookmark.
I've been on a bit of a pack kick lately and sewed up two new ones in the course of about a month. I shared pictures of my "Franken-ruck" recently but what follows was a previous work.
It's a bit more detailed and includes a foam framesheet in a tight-fitting sleeve, a probe/shovel handle/saw pocket, a daisy chain on the front, two rows of PALS on the bottom, simple hip stabilizer belt, and hooking top closure mechanism.
Fabrics employed are 1000d Cordura (both coated and uncoated), 200d Cordura, VX-21, spinnaker, silnylon, and then various bits of webbing and other notions.
I've had this out for one long day in the backcountry with standard avalanche gear, ten essentials, et al and it absolutely swallows everything up. I carried my split in a-frame very comfortably (using ski strap at top tips).
I did not include a small organizer pocket inside nor do a lid for this pack and I could see that being a future update.
Weight is +/- 20 oz.
Volume is 37 liters up to the collar
I built a new ski pack a couple weeks ago (haven’t shared photos or written about it yet) and with my pack building motivation running high I decided to move right into a project I’ve had on my bucket list for a long time.
I’ve heavily modified multiple Golite Jam Packs but have always yearned for the utter simplicity of a ruck styled after Jardine’s original design that manifested itself commercially as the Golite Breeze. I borrowed elements pretty heavily from my beloved ULA Conduit and Amp packs, some tidbits from Risk’s JJPack, as well as the inspiration of myriad other MYOG frameless rucks I’ve seen over the years.
Winter bicycling can be cold in Bozeman and I gave my Bar Mitts to my wife so a set of pogies was in order. I ride a Surly Open Bar mustache style handlebar on both my daily commuter and fatbike so I built these to work with both.
I designed, patterned, and sewed these in a little under six hours this weekend. Inside is a very soft fleece over a layer of continuous filament polyester insulation. Outside is a water-shedding nylon ripstop with 1000d Multicam Cordura trims. The fleece, ripstop, and insulation set me back about $10 and the Multicam was scrap so aside from the time commitment these were pretty cheap.
The United States Forest Service has a series of cabins, fire lookouts, and other shelters available for rental at a nominal cost all over the country. In SW Montana there is a LOT of federal land and therefore there are a LOT of these rental cabins. Navigate your way to recreation.gov to see for yourself.
A couple weekends ago my lady, a friend of hers, and myself put some winter gear into a big ol’ Otter Sled (designed to normally be pulled behind a snow machine) that I hand fashioned into a pulk and set off for a four mile ski to the Spanish Creek Cabin in the Northern Madison Range of the Gallatin National Forest. I was prototyping a pulk system that I will ultimately build onto my Mad River Rocket sled using a far lighter and better performing system. I plan to cover this in more detail in a later post.
As you can see in the above photo weight was of absolutely NO CONCERN whatsoever. I set three Rubbermaid tubs on the floor in the living room and told the ladies that if it fit into the tub I’d pull it in the pulk. Water, food, sleeping bags, pillows, books, wine, beer, slippers, warm clothing, you name it – it all went in. They each wore a small backpack with the day’s water and food in it and I wore a pack that I put my sleeping bag into (simply to give it some shape). I attached the pulk with a couple carabiners and set off through the sticky snow.
The hike into the cabin is along an asphalt road that is not plowed in winter so the gradient is very mellow. The area is very windblown however and given the low snow levels of the season there were many portions that contained exposed asphalt. About a 1/4 mile into the ski I removed my skis, placed them onto the pulk and walked for about two miles over asphalt, hardpacked ice/snow, and through minimal drifts. At about the two or 2.5 mile mark the snow levels increased and I was able to ski with the load behind me.
The system I was prototyping for the pulk uses a commonly-known method of two five foot lengths of PVC pipe crossed in an “x” pattern and connected to the hipbelt of the pack. I ran lengths of rope through the PVC pipe for this prototype but the final version will not use rope. The “x” pattern tracked behind me on uphills and downhills very, very well. It did roll over on my twice when I was attempting some sidehills that were simply too steep. I estimate however than in my upcoming design the load will ride much lower (aka no more spacious Rubbermaid tubs) and will therefore allow me to attempt steeper slopes with a lower center of balance.
This was also the first overnighter I took using the Madshus Epoch skis I procured this year. In the past years all of my backcountry travel has either been on snowshoes or via my splitboard but I have been entertaining the idea of using a set of skis that would allow me to focus on making miles quickly and easily on trips where descending wasn’t the primary focus (as with splitboarding). I chose the Epochs because they allow for excellent edging and control in offtrail as well as groomed trail situations. To complement the ski I went with a vintage three-pin Rotefella Telemark binding and the Rossignol BCX11 boot.
Cord and cordlock girth-hitched to shoulder strap of backpack for hat storage.
When ski touring I use variations of a trucker cap, a winter hat, and the hood of my merino hoody to thermo-regulate during uphill travel. When the winter hat becomes too warm I cinch it into this simple cord system I attached to my pack to keep it ready for quick access.