• Autumn photo of Lake Clark and the Aleutian Range in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

    Lake Clark

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

November 2013: A Proenneke Thanksgiving

November 04, 2013 Posted by: Katie Myers

Welcome to our first installment of the Object of the Month.  We're kicking off this new blog series with Dick
Proenneke's November 28, 1968 journal entry, in which he describes his first Thanksgiving spent in his new
cabin at Upper Twin Lake.  The start of November begins the busy holiday hustle and bustle. We might do
well to emulate Proenneke by taking time to notice and enjoy life's simple pleasures, like a light breeze, the
fast moving clouds, good food, the stars and moon, a fire when it's stormy out, and our last marshmallow.

Below are images of Proenneke's hand-written journal entry, followed by a typed transcript of it for those of
you who have a hard time deciphering his handwriting.


page of a handwritten journal  page of a handwritten journal


page of a handwritten journal  page of a handwritten journal

Journal Transcript:

"Nov. 28

Clear, calm and a -4°. The stars still showing at 8 am. last night at 12:30 I was awakened by ice breaking up. 
A light up the lake breeze was pushing it against the shore.  At 5:30 this morning I looked out to see the lake
white with frost. Ice on the lake for Thanksgiving.  I went for a bucket of water after breakfast and was
surprised to find that the ice would carry my weight.  I cut a hole with the ice chisel and found the ice to be
a good inch thick.  How far did it extend. From the farmer cabin I could see ice all the way to the lower end,
but past Glacier creek I wasn't sure so hiked up the beach past Weiser's cabin.  Ice along shore but open
water from Glacier creek on up.  Fog rising from the water dumped in b the river.  I went up through the
timber to come down the creek trail and flushed four spruce grouse. Fog was forming over the lower lake
and clouds were moving fast up country.  It was going to blow.

A special day.  Fresh suet for the chickadees and a generous helping for the camp robbers and the squirrel.

Hotcakes for me this morning and a Thanksgiving dinner of loin chips, mashed potatoes and brown gravy. A
salad of chopped cabbage, carrots & onion, sourdough biscuits and honey. For dessert - sourdough
shortcake with fresh blueberries followed by a cup of hot chocolate and my last marshmallow.  I opened two
pounds of cookies that I have been saving since early Sept. As a result I felt more uncomfortable than I had
in a long time.

The wind finally struck and the temp. bounced to a +5° and then back to 0°. The wind blew strong and the
ice groaned I wondered how much it would stand.  Late this evening I hiked up towards the hump to see if it
held to Glacier creek. It had broken up country a short distance from the Weiser cabin and the wind pushed
it to the upper end.  I hope that it holds from here down.

Stars and a half moon were out again at 4:30 and the wind continues.  The temp 4°. A fire in the fireplace
most all day today and this evening.  It is good company on a stormy day."

closeup of snowflakes on a frozen pond
  

Proenneke began keeping a journal in the late 1950s or early 60s, prior to moving to Upper Twin, and kept it
up during his time at Upper Twin.  Over the years, Proenneke had a great need to document his life in words,
and he wrote millions of them!

Soon after the creation of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in 1980, he allowed the National Park
Service to copy several years of his journals.  In 2000, Proenneke and his brother Raymond donated all 255
of his journals to the park, which totaled nearly 90 lbs.  In addition to these tomes, Proenneke also donated
his letters, calendars, photographs, tools, books, and household objects; nearly everything he owned at the
cabin.  These objects are part of Lake Clark's museum collection and housed either at the NPS Alaska
Regional Curatorial Center in Anchorage or in his cabin at Twin Lakes.

 


7 Comments Comments Icon

  1. Rebekah - Lake Clark Ranger
    December 03, 2013 at 04:35

    Thank you everyone. We are pleased to receive your comments, and to see that you are enjoying this blog. Kelly, yes, that snowflake photo is also part of our collections, and was taken by Proenneke himself.

  2. Kelly - Anchorage, AK
    December 03, 2013 at 04:24

    LOVE the Object of the Month idea! That's an amazing picture of a snowflake. Is that part of the collection, as well?

  3. Elizabeth - Derwood, MD
    November 28, 2013 at 05:25

    Object of the Month is such a great idea! Thanks! Such a great way to share the treasures in the LACL archive!

  4. Paul - Enfield, Ct
    November 27, 2013 at 05:40

    Thanks for posting this. It was nice to begin my day at work by reading this and thinking of Dick Proeneke for a minute.

  5. Sasha - Cedar Rapids, IA
    November 24, 2013 at 02:35

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing

  6. Drew - Boston, MA
    November 05, 2013 at 10:18

    This is great....anything DP is a great read and sight! Thanks for keeping the story alive!

  7. Eloy - Miami, Florida
    November 04, 2013 at 08:03

    That is quite a treat. Thank you so much for preserving and sharing.

 

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Did You Know?

This willow ptarmigan is in the process of changing plumage colors.

Willow ptarmigan, found across southwest Alaska, are white in the winter and brown in the summer. These notoriously slow birds need extra camouflage from predators!