'Alone' Recap: Look, It's Bear Poop! - 05/26/2022

Post by: Rick Ellis 26 May, 2022

Tonight is the season nine premiere of Alone, the show which if nothing shows that America is filled with a seemingly endless supply of self-described survivalists who ironically find themselves struggling to survive a few weeks in the wilderness.

This season ten contestants have been dropped off in the wilds of Labrador, Canada and based on the opening tease, a really big snow is coming soon.

Adam is from Fayetteville, Arkansas; Terry is from Homer, Alaska; Teimojin is from Montreal; Jesse is from Paposa Springs, Colorado; Jaques is from Juneau, Alaska; Tom is from Earlysville, Virgina; Igor is from Bountiful, Utah; Juan Pablo is from Pinawa, Canads; Benji is from Bellevue, Idaho and Karie Lee is from Sandpoint, Idaho. 

As was the case in previous seasons, the contestants are limited to bringing ten items with them. Everything else they need to survive they will have to forage, build or kill. 

It's the morning of day one and the temperature is 61 degrees. Which in theory should give the contestants time to construct a decent shelter and perhaps begin searching for food sources. One difference between this season and previous years is that this location is the habitat of polar bears. Unlike regular bears, they are not herbavores. They spend their days roaming around looking for something to eat. Which I suspect will be an interesting challenge for the contestants.

There's a disclaimer that all sites provide the same essentials and are selected at random by the participants. 

Karie Lee is the first contestant to be highlighted and she is...well...a bit of a goofball. She falls as soon as she gets out of the helicopter and spends what seems to be an unwise amount of time looking at the sights from the hilltop where she was dropped. She lives in a yurt back home with no running water and a wood stove as the only heat. She's a primitive skills instructor, which is a popular occupation on Alone. She says if she wins the $500,000 prize, she'll use the money to build a wilderness school.

But right now she's worried about a storm she sees rapidly approaching. Labrador's offshore wind gusts can top 60 mph and can lead to rapid shifts in the weather. She wants to put up a tarp and start a fire. But even with her firestarter, finding usable dry firewood can be a challenge in a place that receives more than 60 inches of rain a year and thanks to the high humidity, is always damp. She says she is in her middle fifties, making her the second oldest participant in the history of the show (the oldest was season four's Peter Brockdorff, who was 61). 

It's now 10:21 a.m. on Day One and it's time to learn a bit about Benji. He's 46 and his location is close to the lake, as well as some open bogs. He is a hunting and pack goat adventure guide back in Idaho and he says that his greatest skill is that he's got more than 30 years of traditional bow hunting experience. Benji says that records are meant to be broken and he wants to go 102 days and break the record for an Alone participant. Producers including that claim in his introductory package usually means that he'll be lucky last 12 days. 

He heads into trees to find a suitable place to set up for the night and finds a few Bunchberrys. Which are not just edible, but their leaves can be used to make a tea that can be used to treat heartburn. He decides to focus on finding food instead of putting up his tarp. Which even to this couch warrior feels like a pretty dumb decision. While picking his berries, he hears a squirrel in the nearby trees and after missing his first shot, he nails it with the second arrow. But as he retrieves the squirrel, it predictably begins to rain. So he not only has no shelter, he now has no dry wood for a fire to cook the squirrel.

It's now 1:32 p.m. on Day One and not surprisingly, all ten people still remain. Jessie is building her shelter and in what she refers to as a "rookie mistake," she had forgot to turn on the camera for the first few hours. She says it's weird and uncomfortable saying all of her thoughts out loud. She also tells the camera that while some people refer to Alone as the "survival Olympics," what they are really doing is called primitive living. She currently works as a survival instructor. She is a former Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructor. If she wins, she wants to launch a school to teach women survival skills. 

While she's looking for the best spot for her camp, she spots a relatively fresh bear print. Which isn't too surprising, since between 6,000 and 10,000 bears roam freely in Labrador. As she outs up her tarp later, she talks about how few women survivalists there are and how she would love to win Alone in part to remind everyone how strong women can be when dealing with the elements. 

It's now 10:47 p.m. on Day One and it's dark. Very dark. And a bit cold, since the current temperature is 48 degrees. Jessie is in her shelter and she hears some sounds which she quickly identifies as a bear. She estimates the bear is less than 100 feet from her and it sounds as if it's moving towards her. After listening for a bit, she realizes that the bear appears to be circling the camp to get around her. The bear likely sees her more as a roadblock than a threat and it will move on after awhile. 

It's 10:24 a.m. on Day Two. It's 59 degrees and Karie Lee is already being driven crazy by the region's giant black flies. She's covered in bites and she complains that the bites itch like crazy. She's looking for a better location for a permanent shelter, since it's likely the weather will turn much colder in the coming days. As she explores, she spots the first animal tracks she's seen and as she walks, she admits that she's a bit intimidated. She is afraid of choosing the wrong spot, but that isn't her only challenge. She spots a grouse, but misses with her first shot from her bow. After following it awhile, she manages to kill it, which will give her the first food she's had since she exited the helicopter.

It's 2:49 p.m. on Day Two and Juan Pablo is unhappy with the area he is in. He complains that it is very hard to walk in the terrain. He is looking for a site for his permanent camp and he explains that he thinks that for this experience, it's best to have a negative attitude. If you don't expect anything to go your way, you won't be disappointed. Which is certainly one way to do the show. He tells the camera that if he wins, it will give him the money to buy some land and a house so he can start a family with his girlfriend Jennifer. 

As he walks through the woods, he spots a huge pile of fresh Bear scat. He sees that as good news, because he says that if he can kill a bear, that would be the "golden ticket." 

He finds a location for his camp and explains that he is going to use the tarp to build a tent. He says that he doesn't see a need to insulate the roof, because as long as he has a for with a chimney he'll be okay. Based on that, I'm guessing this will turn out to be a bad decision on his part. He also says that to prepare for the challenge, he put on 60 pounds. Which doesn't seem to me to be the most optimistic approach.

It's now 4:48 p.m. on Day Two. Juan Pablo hears what he thinks is a squirrel in the woods, but can't spot it. He does, however, find a huge pile of old cans he plans to use as a chimney for his fire. At this point, viewers are reminded that participants are allowed to gather and utilize anything they find on the land or in the water. He has enough cans of various sizes to not only make a chimney, but also a small stove. He needs to make the stovepipe fireproof and one of the ten items he brought with him were waterproof gaiters, which are worn over the top of pants legs. The bottoms of the gaiters are insulated, so he is going to sew them together so he can surround his chimney. After installing the stove, he surrounds it with clay, which will dry and insulate it so it hopefully doesn't set fire to the tarp. 

It's 7:54 a.m. on Day Three and Jacques is laying inside his shelter humming. "It's only day three and I'm already going insane," he explains to the camera. Back home in Alaska, he is a glacier guide, specializing in ice climbing, along with bear viewing. A bit later, he is walking through the forest and spots his first pile of bear poop. This is not ideal, since it is within eyeshot of his tent. At this point, viewers are reminded that each participant was provided with bear spray as part of their safety kit.

Walking further through the woods, he spots a very old jaw-based trap which is held down by springs and could date back to the 1800s. Amazingly, it still works and it could allow him to capture a fox or other game.

It's Day Four, 7:23 a.m. and yes, ten people still remain. We get our first look at Igor, who apparently has not yet built a permanent shelter. He has hiked up a rocky hill in search of building materials, but ended up stuck as the night approached and he ended up sleeping outside on a big, uneven rock. "I didn't even have time to set up my tarp," he admits to the camera. "I just wrapped myself up like a burrito, which is pretty embarrassing." He hasn't consumed any protein since being dropped off four days earlier and has burned lots of calories walking long distances around his drop-off site hoping to find the "perfect" site for his permanent shelter.

Igor says he's Armenian. Egyptian, French and Russian and that's why his day job is spent helping to create programs for refugees. He has a great deal of experience with a bow, but only casual survival skills, so it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out this season. 

It's not looking too positive, given that after four days of hiking, he's decided to build his shelter not far from where he was originally dropped off by the helicopter. 

He desperately needs food, so he gathers some Bladderwrack seaweed, which is rich in iodine and he makes a seaweed stew. Mmmmm.

It's 10:47 a.m. on Day Four and Jacques stomach is growling. He's laying in bed taking about being hungry when he hears a squirrel in a nearby tree and luckily manages to kill it with an arrow. On the downside, a squirrel on average only provides 540 calories. But it's the first calories he's had in four days. Amazingly, as he's retrieving the squirrel he spots a grouse and is able to kill that as well. MM...grouse and squirrel stew. 

It's 1:31 p.m. on Day Four and Benji has not been quite so lucky with his hunt for calories. He put on 36 pounds in anticipation of this challenge and I suspect he'll need all of it. He plans to build a fishing rod and do some fishing. Local regulations only permit the use of a fly rod or dip net to fish. He plans to build a tenkara rod, which dates back more than 400 years to Japan. Japanese fishermen use bamboo rods tipped with horsehair to catch trout. At this point, viewers are reminded that each participant was provided with five Flies to use as fish bait. 

After an hour, he catches a brook trout which is his first protein after four days. Even though it's small enough to be considered a very fat goldfish. It takes him awhile to get the hang of it, but he ends up catching 12 sardine-sized trout, which still adds up to a nice dinner. He fries them up and adds some Himalayan Salt, which was one of his ten items. 

And that's the end of the two-hour season premiere and we get some scenes from the rest of the season. We see Karie Lee catch a muskrat, someone else kill what looks like a beaver and some random falling and stumbling. See you back here next week.

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