Shaquille O’Neal and Bear Grylls took on the Adirondacks in Monday night’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” on NBC in an episode that was loaded with the local mountain range’s gorgeous scenery but low on drama.
For anyone who has it recorded and wants to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now; for anyone who’d like to see what happened, here’s our recap.
O’Neal came into the area on a train; when he heard a helicopter overhead, he climbed out onto the roof, where Grylls picked him up and they flew off into the “18,000 square miles of mountains and wilderness.” From there, the pair jumped from the copter into a lake — which Grylls informed O’Neal, post-leap, was full of leeches, mosquitoes, and logs.
O’Neal was more excited than scared about appearing on the episode; he stated that his upbringing as the stepson of a military man — he discussed later in the episode with Grylls how he’d moved around frequently with his family as a child — had given him the discipline he needed to survive life in the NBA.
The plan for Grylls and O’Neal was to hike seven miles from the lake to a logging road which was the extraction point. Along the way they would encounter a ravine and a mountain they’d have to climb both up and down.
O’Neal’s process of walking through the woods differed quite a bit from Grylls’s — while Grylls said he’d see a tree and walk around it, O’Neal was enjoying knocking down every tree that he came across.
The first substantial roadblock they encountered was what Grylls referred to as a “classic Adirondack escarpment:" a long, steep slope. O’Neal worried about his bad shoulders from years of dunking and a fear of heights, but managed to climb with little difficulty.
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Grylls found a placenta he thought was from either a deer or a moose, and decided it would be dinner for the evening, much to O’Neal’s distaste. “Bear, you just touch everything, don’t you?” O’Neal asked him.
They found a campsite for the evening and Grylls demonstrated how they would sleep, heaping piles of leaves around themselves as protection from the weather and to keep themselves warm, and the two of them started a fire with birch bark and a flint to cook the placenta. Grylls ate some, saying that as long as you cook anything enough, you can eat it; O’Neal pretended to eat it, but threw his portion into the woods.
After hanging their backpacks up in a tree to hide them from bears, they slept in their leaf piles. O’Neal found it a little difficult to get comfortable, mostly because he was trying to sleep on something hard … which turned out to be a coyote jawbone.
There was a thunderstorm in the night, which made the next morning’s hike slippery and difficult. The climb was much harder for O’Neal this time around, but he made it, just to discover it was time to climb down the other side of the escarpment. He slipped down and fell a bit along the first stage, then found a tree to climb down, much like a fireman’s pole, for the second stage, and the two made it safely to the bottom.
A short hike brought them to the extraction point, which was along a logging road. They were picked up by a logging truck — but not before O’Neal kissed the ground in thanks.
The views of the Adirondacks — pines, mountains, clear skies — were, as always, stunning, and we’re glad that the duo came to the area and hope they enjoyed their trip as much as we enjoy living this close to the Adirondack Park.