Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the second episode and of Ultimate Survival Alaska, read no further! Spoilers ahead…
This week the teams of Ultimate Survival Alaska are dropped straight into the heart of bear country. Chichagof Island is 2,050 square miles of rugged terrain, 742 miles of coastline and chock full of roving bears. In fact, it’s home to more brown bears per square mile than any other place on earth. The teams have 60 hours to dodge hungry predators, navigate the dense forest and make it to Pelican, the extraction point.
Team Military is determined to hold their lead and cuts straight through the island. The bear survival strategy is evasion, but bears will be hard to spot and avoid in the dense vegetation. Grady promises any bears that might overhear him talking that he “tastes like stale pretzels”. I hope the bears are listening, because they are about to rappel down a cliff and land feet first in an active den.
Stumbling on a cabin, Team Mountaineers find themselves in luck. They are offered a boat. With a choice of either bushwhacking or sailing on the ocean, the answer is an easy one. Mountaineers decide to sail. Just one little problem… there’s no mast and no sail. At least, it would be a problem for most of us, but not for The Mountaineers. Excellent craftsmen, they fashion what they need, but they are still on a learning curve as sailors. The team sets sail, but tips the boat over, returning to the shore to dry out.
Team Endurance is using the same strategy as Military, the direct land route. However, after immediately stumbling on a bear, Endurance decides to head for higher ground. There won’t as many bears above the tree line, but they are trading this safety for the dangerous of more rugged and surprising terrain, including fording an icy stream.
While the other teams are focusing forward motion, Team Woodsmen has decided to spend time looking for protein. Jimmy sets a snare for squirrels and lures them in with a pink ribbon. Apparently, pink ribbons are a great addition to the survival kit, because he catches one. Not only does slow and steady get them a meal, but while traveling up the shore, the team stumble on a rowboat with oars. The Woodsmen are hitting the water as well.
On Day Two, Team Mountaineers brave boating once more to fish for meal and Marty snags a big one with his makeshift fishing pole. The halibut, a 200 pound brute is pulled into the boat and thrashing so hard the guys are in danger. Without further thought, Marty pulls out his gun and shoots a hole in the boat “just for the halibut”, solving one problem and causing another. The boat is taking on water. Patching the hole with a piece of Marty’s shirt and on oarlock gets them back to shore. The Team has a great meal, but still has to fix their boat.
Military is in last place, but at least they manage to extract themselves from the bear den unscathed and to booby trap another squirrel for dinner. Endurance is in second place, but they find themselves crossing an ice field and Sean slips and rolls into a pool of melted ice. The team has to pause to rescue Sean from impending hypothermia.
On Day Three, extraction day, The Mountaineers and The Woodsman finally discover that they are in a boat race. Scrambling for the lead, The Mountaineers dump their boat over again, once more losing time and the lead drying out.
All four teams are within striking distance, but it’s a footrace between Endurance and Military. It’s the Woodsmen who pull up to the dock and win the race, however, retrieving a bear barrel full of smoked Alaskan halibut. The Mountaineers pull up after them, while the exhausted Military and Endurance sprint side by side, Endurance narrowly taking third place. Military, in last place, takes their loss gracefully. All the same, Grady wonders out loud why he didn’t think of finding a “frickin’ boat”!
With nine legs left, it is still anybody’s race, but the journey isn’t going to get any easier. Next up, the teams whack through dense rainforest, plunge down steep waterfalls and battle violent open ocean waters. You won’t want to miss Ultimate Survival Alaska: Over the Falls on December 29 at 9PM et/pt.