Lewis native Mike Lowe ventured into the Canadian wilderness with nothing but six cameras and 10 survival items to film the second season of the History Channel survival reality show “Alone.”
The show features a cast of 10 survival experts who are dropped into a remote northern area of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They must survive as long as possible with only a selection of survival items, as well as a set of six cameras, with which they must film themselves for the show.
“It was an awesome, crazy time,” Lowe said.
Season 2 premieres on April 21 at 7 p.m. on The History Channel and will continue for 13 weeks.
Lowe, 55, worked as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) instructor for the U.S. Air Force from 1980-1988. After leaving the military, he returned to Southwest Colorado and started Wilderness Way Adventures, an adventure and survival training company based in Dolores.
Because Lowe had 35 years of survival training experience, a production company sought out Lowe and asked him to apply for the show, he said. He filled out the forms, had a phone interview and filmed himself doing survival tasks for a demo reel. Thousands of people applied, he said.
The production company narrowed it down to 20 finalists, and left it up to The History Channel to decide who the 10 cast members would be, Lowe said. He got the news that he’d been selected while he was at his home near McPhee Reservoir.
“I screamed and jumped up and down,” Lowe said. “I was so excited.”
He had a month to get everything sorted out to leave, and then he was off to Port Hardy, British Columbia for a prep week, Lowe said. The cast members had a week to get acquainted to the area and learn how to use the six-camera setup. No camera crew accompanied Lowe into the backcountry — he was responsible for filming himself from multiple angles for the show.
In addition to essentials such as clothing and rain gear, Lowe selected 10 specialty survival items for his solitary journey. He chose a hunting knife, ferro rod fire starter, a cooking pot, fishing line with hooks, a saw, an ax, a zero-degree sleeping bag, a gill net and two sets of emergency food rations.
A helicopter airlifted Lowe to the dense, old-growth forest near Quatsino Sound on the island. He was restricted to a five-mile coastline area, where he was to survive until he couldn’t last any longer. All the cast members were placed within a 160-mile area, but were separated by mountains and bodies of water so they wouldn’t run into each other through the course of the show.
Over 13 episodes, the series will catalog Lowe and the other cast members’ adventures. They forage for food and water, avoid dangerous predators and attempt to curb their loneliness. The person who lasts the longest in the wilderness wins a $500,000 prize.
In the show’s first season, 40-year-old winner Alan Kay, of Blairsville, Georgia, lasted 56 days on the island. Half the show’s cast in that season gave up in less than a week.
The show can sometimes focus on the contestants’ fears and feeling, but Lowe said he was rarely scared.
“I didn’t film myself being afraid,” he said. “My experience was very positive. I was just doing my thing.”
Lowe said he did feel some homesickness in the first few days from being separated from his wife, Barbara. But it helped to be able to talk to the camera and imagine an audience watching and listening to him, he said.
He didn’t anticipate how much he would be affected by the separation from his wife, but he said it was a bittersweet feeling.
“Sometimes that hindered me, but all along I was so thrilled to know what it feels like to be loved,” Lowe said. “What a wonderful thing it was to know that and feel that. That’s what I took away from the experience.”
Lowe said he’s excited to see his tiny hometown on national and international television.
“I’m just a humble boy from Lewis, Colorado,” Lowe said. “I was very fortunate.”