Ed Wardle has discovered a new diet which can cause weight loss of around 24lbs in just four or five weeks! It’s called the Live On Leaves in the Yukon diet. It involves eating berries, the aforementioned leaves, small handfuls of rice and hiking for days on end with a giant pack on your back… which makes me think I’ll stick with Weight Watchers.
But Ed, a 38 year old adventurer/headcase, is living out his dream of existing entirely alone in the Canadian wilderness, so he’s embarked upon this diet as a rather unwanted side effect of living that dream.
He’s not truly a survival expert of the Bear Grylls, Ray Mears sort, and in last night’s episode, we saw that he’d lost huge amounts of weight, was emotionally and physically drained, and his dream was rapidly becoming a nightmare.
Within minutes of the show opening, Ed’s paranoia – most likely driven by hunger, the deprivation of human contact and watching the Blair Witch Project – was infectious. He went off in search of what was making a noise, hoping it might turn out to be dinner. And it potentially could’ve been; it was a squirrel who was being extremely vocal up a tree.
Ed, sitting on the ground, looking up at the squirrel – most likely with visions of squirrel stew dancing in his head – became increasingly agitated as he listened. “It’s laughing at me now” he said as he took aim, fired, and missed it completely. He wasn’t of course just picking on the squirrel because it was “laughing” at him; he hadn’t eaten meat or fish for days, but he was to be bested for the shot missed and the laughter continued in the treetops. It’s all absolutely compulsive viewing…
In case you missed episode one and last night’s second, Ed has been plonked in the middle of nowhere with basic rations, basic shelter type gubbins, a gun, cooking utensils and a camera. He is, quite literally, alone in the wild; no camera crew, no medics, no security. It’s just him with only his camera for company.
One of the truly gripping things about Alone in the Wild is that as a viewer, one gets a very real sense of the absolute aloneness that Ed must be feeling. He’s very adept at conveying the full spectrum of emotions as he’s going through them, and – unlike many other ‘survival’ type shows – I felt as if I was there with him.
A hush descended on our living room when Ed heard a noise in a spooky part of the forest which creeped him out. I held my breath, as did Ed, as he panned the camera to try to spot the cause of the noise. When he couldn’t find any obvious cause, it was a good deal spookier than if he’d spotted a critter or something.
Other scares along the way last night included Ed following in the path of a very large bear and possibly her cub. The prints left by the bear were enormous and of course for Ed, the possibility of being attacked by a bear is a very real one. So as he found yet more prints and a place the bear had clearly slept, my knuckles were white and I was clenching other parts of me that for your mental wellbeing, I won’t describe.
I also shared in Ed’s ecstasy as he surveyed his surroundings having finally and tortuously made it to his latest desired destination, Tincup lake, where he’d hoped to find plentiful supplies of protein in the form of fish and meat. He’d abandoned his previous camp due to the lack of such goodies, but, despite Ed’s initial joy, and rightly describing the vistas around Tincup lake as “awesome, in the true meaning of the word”, he was soon to discover that there seemed to be even less to eat at Tincup than there was at his last camp.
The weight was literally dropping off him as he desperately searched his snares and found them empty. His fishing expeditions netted three fish the size of sardines and he had to rely upon berries and yet more leaves to keep him alive.
He became increasingly exhausted and tearful – not to mention bradycardic as his metabolism slowed almost to a halt – but despite expressing a few times the desire to just pack it all up and go home, even as he was saying it, one sensed he didn’t mean it.
However, by day 34, having endured a three day rain storm for which he was ill prepared, I suspect he did in fact begin to mean it.
“I can’t even talk on camera anymore without crying” he said and as we watched footage of him trying to haul himself out of the lake after a naked bathing session, his muscles were so wasted, he had to pull himself up, rest, pull a bit more, rest a bit more.
And the true reality of his situation really hit home; he’s really and truly endangering his life. He has an emergency beacon which will be his lifeline should he need it, and, as the episode ended, I was willing him to use it, soon.
I can’t wait for next week’s instalment and I’ll be keeping everything crossed that he catches the thing he wants most, a salmon.