Move one step at a time
By Ashley Thompson
Zach and Afften are in Guyana. The Rupununi Savannah is a plain in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region. The untouched, tropical and subtropical grass lands host the longest poisonous snake in the western hemisphere and the scarce rivers and water sources are the perfect home for black cayman.
Afften is a 27 year old wife and mom from Chicago who has spent her life learning Native American survival techniques from her Grandfather (who is part Cherokee). She begins the challenge with a PSR of 6.0.
Zack is a devout Christian and wilderness field instructor from St. Louis. He became a survivalist because of his love for all things Discovery Channel. He begins the challenge with a PSR score of 6.8.
It’s clear from the beginning that both survivalists are a bit sensitive and have no intention of getting along. Although Zack appears to be laid back, he doesn’t have many nice things to say about his partner… but you can’t really blame him because Afften prefers to not have to do much besides complain. On Day 1 Zack prevents sunburn with mud and Afften decides against it…. it’s already over 102 degrees of smothering humidity. Shockingly, after only 4 hours Afften is already feeling the effects of heat stroke. Rather than the boiled water hydrating her, it causes her to vomit due to it’s “fire” taste. She apparently doesn’t stop vomiting her entire stay. Zack isn’t fairing very well, either, except his setbacks are more mental. He explains that he has anxiety about the situation on Day 2 and expresses grave concern about having to deal with his partner for much longer because she doesn’t help as mush as he would like. After nothing but whining and complaining from Afften, she taps out on Day 7, and later blames her mental breakdown on her period. She lost 14 pounds and her PSR was lowered to 4.4.
Zack battles being alone for the remainder of the 21 days and two days until extraction a medic is called in. The toll of loneliness and exhaustion is setting in and he becomes feverish (102.5). Although he is allowed to continue, the doctor explains that if he doesn’t get his head into it then he won’t make it. With his health declining and temperature rising, Zack takes embers and a pot of water on his two day extraction hike, spilling the water halfway. The medical crew is on standby for his possible forced tap out. But there’s no need because Zack makes it to his extraction point! Over the 21 days he lost 28 pounds and raised his PSR score to 8.1.
Photo credit: Discovery Channel