In the ninth leg of Ultimate Survival Alaska, the three remaining teams must cross Kodiak brown bear country at Afognak Island with the salmon spawn in full swing. The question isn’t if, but when the competitors are going to be face-to-face with the dangerous predators. The teams must cross 31 miles of bear-packed wilderness to reach the extraction landing zone at the northernmost tip of the island. And in this leg, Endurance needs a win or they are out of the race.
Endurance plans to take the most direct route. They have no choice but to run from start to the finish. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers, who are coming off a win, have time to stock up on salmon. Team Military, tied for the lead, also needs protein and decides to take time to fish. Both teams can plan on competing with bears for food.
Endurance, admitting that they need to win the next three legs in a row to take the competition, tries to be vigilant and keep moving. But they have barely gotten started and already, they have to add on time to circumvent bears.
Mountaineers get busy pulling salmon from a river that is a highway of fish. Military, looking for a honey hole of their own, comes across the other team fishing. Rather than go around, they walk through the fishing hole to mess with them. The fish are spooked and The Mountaineers are not pleased. Despite the psychological warfare, The Mountaineers catch enough fish for Thomas to use his Tlingit skills and smoke the extra rations.
Military moves on to find their own stream to fish in and takes their fill and more. The only problem is that they have to hike out through rugged country with a stash of bear bait. Even down a man to keep watch, Grady and Jared think it’s worth the risk.
No time to fish, Endurance still manages to shoot a squirrel to add to their rations. The team may not be feasting, but they are satisfied to have some meat at the end of the night. So they wolf down dinner and then set up a bear alarm so that they can try and get a good night’s sleep.
On day two, Endurance is making good time and decides to grab a few salmon as well. They don’t fish long though. Sean comes face-to-face with a bear on the river and the guys high-tail it out at top speed. (Check out Sean dodging a bear!) They are still in first place, but find themselves at a river that must be crossed and no easy place to walk through it. Eddie makes the first attempt, falling and giving himself a good gash on his rear.
Meanwhile, Military is on the coast, trying to stay out of bear country and instead contending with a brutal coastal storm. Worse, they lose a crucial portion of their map in the furious wind. (Oops! There goes the map!) They think they are heading in the right direction, but aren’t entirely certain.
On day three, Military is lost. They have no map or compass, but rely on which side the moss is growing on the trees. This should indicate north, but it’s not a definitive method. They decide they have no choice but to call it North and head in that direction. The Mountaineers quickly discover that they are also turned around and have been heading the wrong way all morning. With two hours left on the clock, but the teams are in danger of missing the extraction. Meanwhile, Endurance is within site of the LZ and pushing for the finish.
Endurance takes the win, celebrating that they still have a shot at the title. There is less than ten minutes left as the other teams approach with no easy access to the LZ. The extraction boats are approaching as Endurance yells directions to the other teams, guiding them in. Military takes second, followed closely by The Mountaineers and everyone stays in the race, barely. It isn’t over yet, though. Endurance has hope, but they also need another win just to stay on the board.
There are only two legs left and any of the three teams could still take the win.
Keep your eye on the leaderboard, vote for your favorite team and tune in next week February 23 at 10PM et/pt to Ultimate Survival Alaska: Deep Dark Woods.