The Original Cabin Porn

Richard Proenneke's cabin.

Richard Proenneke's cabin.

In 1968, Richard Proenneke retired to the Alaska wilderness with a simple and difficult mission; to live off the land. Proenneke moved to the Twin Lakes region where he would build a home, fish, farm, and do everything else needed to become self sufficient.

And he filmed much of it.

The result is incredible. Alone in the Wilderness is an amazing record of a skilled and hard working man, a naturalist like Henry David Thoreau, set against the dramatic Alaskan landscape. I’ve watched it so many times and each time I find it beautiful and captivating. I picture myself in the mountains and lakes of Alaska with Proenneke and I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this. 

Alone in the Wilderness is the original Cabin Porn, the super popular Tumblr started by the team at Beaver Brook, the cabin project in Pennsylvania.

Cabin Porn, with nearly 50,000 followers on Facebook is an unending image stream of beautiful cabins perched, tucked and placed among all kinds of landscapes. There’s also the Weekend Cabin feature on Adventure Journal, and then for me the ultimate cabin porn is in Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs.

My favorites are the modern cabins on the rocks in some crisp coastal Norwegian setting, though I’d do just fine on Block Island or Stinson Beach too. We all picture ourselves hiding out in these quiet places, maybe with a book, or a rod, or a gun, away from our modern lives. It’s so easy to fantasize.  

Proenneke lived in his Alaska cabin for some 30 years. At the beginning of his film he wonders if he's up for the challenge. “Was I equal to everything this wild land could throw at me," he asks.  As a professionally-trained carpenter and diesel mechanic and skilled outdoorsman as well, he was indeed up for the challenge that the Alaska Wilderness offered. For the rest of us, there’s his legacy Alone in the Wilderness and of course, Cabin Porn.