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Wisconsin survivalist lasts 19 days on ‘Alone’ TV competition

‘I wasn't scared,’ Ann Rosenquist tells WPR. ‘I could just be my own person out there.’

Photo Courtesy of The HISTORY Channel

A Bayfield County farmer survived 19 days in the Canadian wilderness as a contestant on the 10th season of “Alone,” the HISTORY Channel’s televised survival competition.

Ann Rosenquist, co-owner of North Wind Organic Farm, was the second of 10 contestants to leave the competition, which offers a $500,000 prize to whoever endures the longest.

Rosenquist recently appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” to discuss her experiences while fending for herself in one of North America’s harshest environments.

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The following was lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Rob Ferrett: What made you want to try this challenge?

AR: It’s kind of the perfect opportunity, because you get to go out and go as far as you can, and then there’s a tap out button, and they come and pick you up.

RF: What were you hoping to get out of it?

AR: The final prize … I’m not sure I ever expected to get that, but I learned a lot about myself out there and just what I’m capable of and what I’m not capable of.

RF: What was the first challenge you decided to tackle? Food, shelter, water?

AR: It was kind of working on food and shelter both at the same time.

RF: What were some of your most successful foraging and hunting and fishing methods?

AR: I found quite a bit of wild mushrooms. I did get a grouse. I tried eating reindeer moss, which is edible if you boil it like three times. If you don’t boil it, then it’s poisonous and you die. I tried different things like that. Basically, I got so hungry and so dehydrated that I had to come back.

RF: You were feeling pretty bad and one of the reasons was a shortage of salt, which as Americans, that’s not something we experience very often. What was it like to have this mundane material be such an obstacle in the wilderness?

AR: I sort of had this inkling in the back of my head that maybe salt was important, and actually that could be one of your 10 items (survivalists bring), but I kind of changed it up and didn’t bring the salt. And I’m sorry I didn’t do that because that would have really helped me.

RF: You went through this experience in 19 days in the Canadian wilderness. Given the opportunity, would you do it again?

AR: Of course I would. It was just fun. I mean, I’m more scared of people than of wild animals. So I wasn’t scared out there. It was kind of like my own space, you know? I could just be my own person out there.

RF: You described it also as a spiritual experience. Could you talk about that a little?

AR: It was so pristine up there. We flew in a small plane even to get up to that lake, Reindeer Lake, way up in northeastern Saskatchewan. There’s nothing down below. There’s no people. There’s no roads. It’s so beautiful. And that white reindeer moss with the black spruce is more of a primitive environment, too. There’s a lot less variety of plants.

RF: I got to say, it’s kind of painful watching you in the last moments of your experience, trying to figure out what was wrong, if you needed to call for help. Have you gone back and watched that yourself?

AR: I have, and it’s hard for me to watch. I didn’t edit it. I wish they wouldn’t have put that in there, but I think they like to relate to the audience and stuff. I would rather they would have showed me doing something instead of being all touchy feely. I am sort of Scandinavian, you know.

RF: What didn’t we end up seeing on the show that you wish had been there?

AR: There was (me) swimming with (fishing) lures. I also spent a lot of time chasing a squirrel that lived up above me. He had this huge complex with probably 20 different holes that went into this huge pile of cones from a black spruce tree. It was enormous. He was out there just the king of whatever. I got right up to him, and I just missed him with my bow. But every time he saw me, he would hide the whole time. I spent a lot of time waiting for him. It was kind of hilarious, actually.