Naked and … afraid?

Naked and … afraid?
Cassie Turner, a former resident of Siloam Springs, and Greg Wells of Pleasant View, Tenn., appeared on a March 20 episode of Discovery Channel's reality show "Naked and Afraid."

Cassie Turner, a former resident of Siloam Springs, and Greg Wells of Pleasant View, Tenn., appeared on a March 20 episode of Discovery Channel’s reality show “Naked and Afraid.”

Cassie Turner recently found out she can do anything through pure will and stubbornness, including survive three weeks in the wilderness of Canada without food, shelter or clothing.

The former Siloam Springs resident, currently living in Hawaii, was featured on a March 20 episode of the Discovery Channel’s reality show “Naked and Afraid,” along with Greg Wells of Pleasant View, Tenn.

Turner, 23, is currently a graduate student and marine biologist at the University of Hawaii. She was born and raised in Siloam Springs and is a 2009 graduate of Siloam Springs High School. She has strong ties to the community through her parents, Kimberly Knight and Bo Turner, and grandparents Cathy and Gary Turner.

Discovery Channel describes “Naked and Afraid” as the ultimate survival show. On the show two strangers, one man and one woman, meet for the first time in the nude and are tasked with surviving in some of the world’s most extreme environments with no food, water or clothing. In addition to the physical challenge of finding shelter, food and water, participants must also face nearly unbearable mental challenges, the site states.

While filming the show, Turner and Wells faced freezing temperatures, a struggle to create shelter and find food, and a close encounter with moose.

Surviving in the wilderness has definitely been the hardest thing Turner has ever done, she said.

Photo submitted "Naked and Afraid" participant Cassie Turner enjoys running in ultramarathons and has ran in three 100 mile races since she filmed the show.

Photo submitted
“Naked and Afraid” participant Cassie Turner enjoys running in ultramarathons and has ran in three 100 mile races since she filmed the show.

“My main lesson from this is you can do anything if you set your mind to it,” she said. “Things always get better if you can push through. We had some really rough days in the beginning. By the end we were pretty happy.”

Discovery Channel’s website lists Turner’s survival skills as primitive hunting and trapping, shelter building, and primitive fire-making. When she started the show, experts gave her a primitive survival rating of 6.7 out of 10, which climbed to 7.8 after three weeks in the wilderness.

She credits her survival skills to her outdoorsy upbringing in Arkansas, and particularly the time she spent with her grandpa. While on the show Turner and Wells survived eating mainly berries and frogs that Turner caught. Catching frogs was a skill Turner learned while playing during her childhood, she said.

“We were pretty well fed,” she said.

Turner got the idea to take part in the show from her mom. After finals last year, Turner was complaining to Knight that she just wanted to run away and live in the woods.

“Well, there is this show on the Discovery Channel,” she said her mom replied.

Turner looked up “Naked and Afraid” and thought, “I could totally do that,” she said. She signed up online and was shocked to hear back from the show within the hour. Turner went thorough an extensive vetting process to prepare for the show, including interviews, meetings with survival experts and a psychological evaluation.

Turner said that her family is proud of her experience.

“I had a lot of support from my family,” she said.

Her grandma was a little hesitant when she learned that Turner might be naked on TV, but her family was put at ease when they realized the focus was more surviving with nothing at all, not even clothing, than nudity. Turner’s grandma started watching the show on a regular basis and has became her granddaughter’s biggest fan.

To interject a little humor on the situation, Turner wrote “Sorry Nana,” on her backside. The apology was revealed when she reached her destination and took off her clothes for the first time.

It didn’t take Turner long to forget about her lack of clothes.

“It was uncomfortable for about an hour,” she said. “But then we were so focused on getting fire and shelter — you know the first night is coming — so after a pretty short amount of time I forgot all about it and went straight into survival mode.”

The hardest part of the experience was the cold, Turner said. Living in Hawaii for the past seven years made her accustomed to temperatures in the 80s. In Canada it took Turner and Wells almost a week to get a fire started, during which time daytime highs were in the 50s and nighttime lows were near freezing.

“There were several times during filming that I was truly afraid,” Turner said.

Turner said she was truly afraid of going to bed at night knowing that they had no fire and they may not survive until morning if they went into hypothermia while asleep. The two survivalists fought off hypothermia by staying awake at night and moving around. On one particularly cold night, Turner was worried that Wells was losing consciousness because of hypothermia. The next morning he credited her with saving his life.

Turner and Wells experienced another scare when several moose came into their campsite during the middle of the night. Moose can be aggressive and trample people if they are startled — so the partners stayed as quiet as possible inside their shelter.

“Although there were many times that I was truly afraid during the course of this show, I never let it stop me from persevering and I always did my best to stay positive and make the best of every situation I encountered,” Turner said.

While the first week of the challenge was miserable, by the end Turner and Wells were much more comfortable with food, shelter and fire. Turner said they joked that they could survive another 21 days if they had to.

Once Turner returned to civilization she found that she was most grateful for blankets and shoes. Sleeping in a hotel bed the first night was also an amazing experience, she said.

Turner said her time on “Naked and Afraid” made her reflect on people throughout the world who survive without access to clean water, and luxuries such as blankets and shoes. She hopes to find a way to help bring clean water to Third World countries.

“This is three weeks for us, just an experiment,” Turner said. “There are so many people in this world that this is there life and it doesn’t end. Suffering is a standard of living and it’s all they have.”

Turner had a watch party with friends for the airing of the show.

“I was really happy with the way the show turned out,” she said. “I watched it with everybody else and I was really happy with the way they portrayed us.”

Turner’s experience on the show has made the three ultramarathons she has competed in since the experience seem like a breeze. While running the 100-mile races, Turner tells herself, “At least this is nothing like ‘Naked and Afraid.’”

“It’s all been so much easier,” Turner said. “(Naked and Afraid) was at least four times harder than anything I’ve done.”

Even so, Turner said she would do it all again, with the caveat that she would prefer a warmer climate.

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