This week we’re taking a long flight and a bumpy ride to Udhampur India. We haven’t visited India since Hakim and Phaedra visited the country (Afterwards, Phaedra told me about her experience). India is an immense nation with extremes in topography and climate and in this adventure we’re in the mountain highlands of India’s NorthWest (The direction, not the person) corner. The survivalists will have to deal with a climate that is hot and dry by day, and cold and windy at night.
While this sounds like it may be less buggy than some of N&A’s other locations, the area’s dryness will make dehydration a possibility and at night, the weather may dip into hypothermia-inducing ranges. Also, since they’re high in altitude, they’re relatively exposed and when the are gets one of its frequent storms, they face the potential for even colder temps, and maybe lightning or landslides.
Let’s meet the participants …
Age 35, lives in Missoula, Montana but is originally from West Virginia.
He’s an introverted paramedic who also teaches wilderness medical survival.
He has decades of wilderness experience and has been practicing survival since he was a teen.
Since he’s a paramedic, I expect him to be calm under pressure and be able to think fast.
Doppelgänger- He could be related to John Krasinski
Age 30, from Pennsylvania
She’s a perky engineering student who describes herself as a “people person”
She admits that she’s “new to the survival game,” but is looking to learn from her partner.
As an engineer, I would expect her to attack each problem methodically.
Doppelgänger- she looks a bit like Melissa Joan Hart.
There are lots of things that want to kill you in India, and in Udhampur, you can look forward to Grey Linger Monkeys, Leopards and deadly black scorpions. I’ll admit, the shots of the monkeys make them look adorable … and delicious. But I’d be wary of eating anything that might have a vengeful posse.
It’s always awkward to strip down in front of cameras. Don’t ask me how I know this. But it seemed that the cameras lingered extra long on Jen as she struggled to pull down her shorts. Once Jen and Trenton met in a clearing and did the obligatory handshake while trying not to state at the others’ butts, the awkwardness spewed forth.
Trenton: “I have bugs on my butt.”
Jen: “Flies on my vagina are a new sensation.”
Primitive Survival Rating (PSR)
Prior to insertion, Both Trenton and Jen were given a numerical representation of their wilderness abilities. This number is based out of a possible 10 points will be reevaluated at the end of the 21-day survival test and will go up or down, depending how each participant did in the challenge.
Trenton has decades of experience, and begins with a PSR of 7.9.
Jen has less experience, and begins with a PSR of 6.4.
Each survivalist is allowed to bring one survival item on the 21-day experience. I’ve been told that each participant selects multiple items and the producers select the final item that appears in their woven tote. I guess this is to make that reveal a bit more exciting and so that both people don’t being fire starters.
Trenton– Custom made kukri (Nepalese) knife, which was made for him by a friend at Behring Made Knives.
Trenton doesn’t want to share his magic knife. I understand that he brought it, but the producers could have easily let her bring the knife and given him the pot. But he magnanimously fashions a pointed stick for Jen to use. I would have told Trenton to sit on his stick and give me his knife. But he’s taking ownership of the knife and tries to control how Jen uses her pot.
Night 1, the shelter isn’t complete yet, so they shiver all night long. Jen employs a technique I would definitely use and puts her feet on a hot rock from the fire.
Day 2 In the morning, Jen barfs. Trenton thinks that Jen has mountain sickness and is dehydrated.
They employ what I call the “burrow-model” of shelter building. They’ve heaped what looks to me like the pine straw at Augusta National on top of a wood frame. It actually looks pretty snug, and I would expect a family of rosy-cheeked bunnies to hop out of the quaint little door. I don’t know if pine straw is waterproof, but they should be pretty warm.
Jen spends a few days lying around camp not feeling well while Trenton is as busy as a knife-holding beaver. Things come to a head during a storm when Trenton yells at Jen for not gathering firewood in advance of the rain. When she calls him selfish, he storms out of the shelter.
The next day, they come to a semi-truce. Trenton doesn’t have great interpersonal skills, and Jen is a bit hot-headed too, but if they’re both going to survive, they need to work together. There’s a reason Naked and Afraid fans came up with the portmanteau “Hangry” — because when you’re hungry, you get angry and crazy.
On Day 8, Trenton catches a black scorpion that is deadly, but also full of calories. They cook it and think it’s not too bad-tasting. And I’m mentally barfing at the idea of eating a scorpion.
On Day 10, Trenton finally lets his partner touch his knife. Baby steps.
Trenton heads down to the watering hole to hunt for frogs, but comes back empty-handed.
By Day 13, Trenton is utterly spent.
He catches a dove in one of the traps he’s built. Hooray!!! That meager bit of meat is the mental lift that they needed. And it tastes like chicken!! Trenton’s cage/trap is pretty fantastic; it’s too bad he’s only been able to catch one bird in it.
By Day 19 Trenton and Jen are both weak, but they’ve become friends. And enjoy a few meager catches, like a frog. But they’re not eating anything major. But this is Naked and Afraid, where everyone comes into the experience expecting to roast pigs on a spit, and is lucky if they catch a few worms and frogs. It’s a lot easier to be the top of the food chain when your food is hermetically-sealed at the grocery chain.
Day 20, Another ferocious storm moves into the area, complete with major bouts of lightning and thunder. That night, they can see a wildfire that was sparked by a lightning strike. The fire is on the next ridge but is headed their way. The duo makes a mental plan to evacuate if needed. I bet that wasn’t a very restful night of sleep. There was once a large wildfire a few miles from my house and I wasn’t able to concentrate and I had a car and access to outstanding fire personnel. These two are definitely bad-asses! This would have been my tap-out moment.
On the morning of Day 21, the fire has made their difficult extraction even more dangerous. They were originally supposed to walk 6 miles across the ridgeline to a clearing, but now they have to walk 11 miles to a location where they’ll be rescued by a helicopter. Jen’s really weak and her positive mental attitude seems gone. I bet the disappointment of having to choose a more difficult route to extraction had to be a mental blow. But happily, Trenton assumes the role of supportive team member and he cheers on his teammate.
Trenton’s philosophy, “The only way through, is through.”
Jen is so proud of herself for surviving 21 days in India. I’m also pretty sure she’s glad it’s over. Trenton says he wants to increase his skill set so the next time he does anything like this, he thrives. I think that’s a direct challenge, Naked and Afraid. Bring him back!!
Why I would have died in this episode:
I would be the queen of the cuddle. If it was cold, I would be as close as humanly possible to my partner. I didn’t see any cuddling in this episode! I would have demanded it. I wonder if the teams ever employ a modesty leaf or two so that bits aren’t right up against bits. I did read an online interview in his local newspaper, and Trenton admitted that he got pretty cranky in his 21 days. He’s never seen cranky people until he’s seen me hungry. I may be the first person on Naked and Afraid reduced to cannibalism.
The heavy toll:
Over 21 days, Jen lost 25 pounds and Trenton lost 18 pounds. I would have thought that each lost significantly more than that; they both became quite gaunt.
Jen was positive throughout the difficult ordeal and her PSR improved from a 6.4 to 6.9.
Trenton overcame his controlling methods to become a team-player. His PSR improved from 7.9 to 8.2.
What would you have done differently in Trenton and Jen’s situation? I love their shelter, and it seemed like Trenton had a few good trap ideas. I just don’t think there was a lot of food to be caught that high in altitude.
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