Season 1 Episode 3
Hollywood superstar Channing Tatum and Bear Grylls chopper into the wilds of the Sierra Nevada for a high altitude, high stakes adventure...[button color="red" size="small" link="http://www.nbc.com/running-wild-with-bear-grylls" target="blank" ]Official Site[/button]
He's been a model, an exotic dancer, an action star, a dancing hunk and a leading man. But can Channing Tatum play the part of mountain man? Let's just say if they ever remake the movie "Jeremiah Johnson," Channing's agent should get the first call. Cue the helicopter carrying Bear Grylls.
Gliding high over the dense pines of the Sierra National Forest, Bear and Channing decide their outdoor adventure should begin with a bang - or a splash. As the chopper whips up a frenzy of waves in a high mountain lake not far from Yosemite National Park, the two men take turns backflipping off the helicopter skids and into the lake. Unlike some of Bear's prior wilderness partners, this celebrity seems to have a boundless appetite for adventure.
Their 13 mile journey involves navigating through dense forest and climbing a 9,000 foot raw granite dome before descending to their extraction point. The guys gear up and head off through the spectacular scenery. Along the way, Bear opens his bag of tricks, showing Channing how to pick out pitch-filled tinder wood and build a fire from flint and steel. And then there's the snake.
Part of any bona fide Bear Grylls experience is living off the land. So when Bear spies a rattlesnake under a log, his first instinct isn't to sprint away, but to think of how it can be safely trapped and killed. The two men work in tandem with long branches. The snake hisses and rattles, eliciting more than a few warnings to Channing from Bear. Our survivalist knows that killing one of Hollywood's biggest box office stars would be bad for business. Instead, the men work carefully together, finally pinning the snake's head against the ground and dispatching it with a bold stroke of a machete. Next come Bear's lessons in snake skinning, snake nutrition and the wonder of spontaneous snake muscular movements after decapitation. The still writhing body is placed into Tatum's backpack, and the fellas continue their trek.
Sheer granite cliffs are a hallmark of the Sierra Neva, byproducts of eons of glaciation and tectonic uplifting. The imposing outcrop that Bear and Channing begin to climb seems to grow steeper at each turn. But this is a careful, powerful pair of athletes, and they make steady work out of the climb to the top. An awesome view and thin air has them celebrating - and feasting on roast rattlesnake. With their peak bagged, Bear begins scouting an appropriate spot to spend the night. Sleeping atop the rock isn't a good choice: it's too exposed to wind and the threat of spontaneous lightning storms (notorious in the Sierra). Bear spots a narrow ledge in the lee of the rock. It's a terrifying perch, but the veteran climber instructs Channing in how to safely descend and set up a just-wide-enough bivouac. Bear's asleep soon after nightfall, but Channing is a restless wreck. Perhaps it has something to do with the 600 foot drop just a few feet to the right of his "bed."
Dawn arrives, and the two begin planning their route down the rock. Their very lives will depend on harnesses, ropes and knots. Channing isn't quite so confident in his knotwork, but Bear exudes faith. Before you know it, the two are climbing down the mountain, dropping hundreds of feet, finding a ridge, re-rigging their ropes and descending again.
The trip down the hill has Channing rushing with adrenaline; by the time he and Bear are most of the way down, he's laughing, screeching and loving the call of the wild. Bear's got a happy surprise for Channing's descent down the final pitch: a front rappel. It involves paying out rope through a harness while running straight down a cliff. It's terrifying to watch - and exhilarating to perform. Safely at the bottom, the two rejoice.
From there, it's a hump to the extraction point where they build a signal fire, which they stoke with green branches (to generate smoke), then board a helicopter for the return to civilization. It's been just 48 hours, but both men are exhausted, exhilarated and proud of what they've accomplished. They've bonded over their shared love of physical challenges, the beauty of the Sierra and the kinship of two fathers taking a little time out to renew their wild spirits.