What's it Like to be on "Naked and Afraid"?

Laura Zerra of Belmont, NH, tells us about her experiences on the Discovery Channel Reality show.



Laura Zerra, who lives in Belmont, NH, survived the Discovery Channel reality show "Naked and Afraid."

Courtesy photo

“Naked and Afraid” is the name of the Discovery Channel show that brought her to national notice, but Laura Zerra is not afraid of much and while she may have been dropped off naked in the wilderness for her appearances on that show, this young woman knows how to find just about anything she needs in nature.

Zerra travels the world but her current post is in Belmont, NH, where she offers adventure travel and primitive survival training to anyone wanting to appreciate the wild world we all live in. She teaches hunting, tracking, taxidermy, tanning, plant identification and fire starting. “My journey has taken me from freight trains in Mexico to hobo encampments in Chicago, from antler hunting in Idaho to extreme survival in Panama,” she explains on her website.

How did you wind up on “Naked and Afraid”?
I’d been traveling about 10 years, teaching survival skills. When they were casting, my name came up. They Facebook-stalked me, saw my photos and learned a bit about me and then sent a message asking if I wanted to be on the show. Next thing I know I’m on a plane to LA.

When they needed someone to fill in for a "casualty" they called you to come back. You must have made a good impression.
I like to think so. I was unbelievably excited when I got the call. I jumped out of my seat. I had about five days to prepare but I try to live healthy anyway. I cut out all sugar and caffeine. Began eating Paleo, vegetables, meats and healthy fats like nuts and avocados. I really wanted to put on a little extra fat before I left. I try to be a mostly healthy person. I've been preparing over the last 10 years. It's not something you can prepare for in the last few weeks - It's something you either have or you don't.

And then you’re being dropped off in the middle of nowhere. What’s the worst thing that happened?
The last night before we hit extraction [going home] we had to paddle to a point where the helicopter would meet us, about nine miles away, in a makeshift raft. The rains came and it was a Biblical storm. We got to shore and put a mat over us and spent about four hours just trying to keep our core temperatures up. When it’s 49 degrees and you’re naked and getting buckets of rain dropped on you, you can’t control hypothermia.

You’re allowed to take one thing with you, what did you choose?
I brought a machete. My partner brought a fire starter.

Is there some item you always carry, just in case?
Nothing. Just myself. I don’t like to be reliant on things. I’m into primitive survival. I want to be comfortable everywhere with nothing.

Have you recovered completely? 
Yeah, no scars. But when you’ve been hungry for that long it takes a long time to get your muscle back. Your body just wants to create fat.

What exactly is a survivalist?
There’s the connotation that they just want to survive no matter what, come the zombie apocalypse or whatever.  If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I’ll  be one of the first to go. I’m more of an adventurist. Knowing how to take care of my own needs means I have freedom.

Does NH offer any adventures to someone who has survived “Naked and Afraid”? 
I think you can find adventure anywhere. Once I was stranded at a gas station in Indiana for four days and had the most incredible time. It was funny, intense. In NH you have mountains, woods and the seacoast but it’s the people that I really love. I’m a nomad at heart, always wandering, but more than anywhere else it’s home. I miss it when I’m gone. It’s nice to have a place you miss.

What are you afraid of?
I was scared of vomiting when I was younger, but I got over that. Now I’m just scared of having a boring life. Other than that, I don’t give fear any energy — life’s too short!

You have a quote from Mary Oliver on your web site. Do you take books or poetry on your adventures?
She's amazing, but no, I don't. I indulge in front country. I tend to be so in the moment when I'm in back country that I wouldn't want to read a book.

More people you should know about

Chef Shannon Bard Wins $25,000

Chef Bard competed on the Food Network reality show "Kitchen Inferno" and took home the $25,000 prize.

Photographer Becky Field Documents the Lives of Refugees in NH

At a time when words like “immigrant” and “refugee” come with loaded political implications, Concord photographer Becky Field has spent the last three years capturing the daily lives of foreign-born Granite Staters, showing that our new neighbors strengthen and enrich our communities.

New England Yankee Skills, Arts and Traditions

These native skills, New England traditions and time-honored arts have survived through centuries of change. As the world becomes increasingly digital, will they be passed on to a new generation of hands?

The bygone craft of ice harvesting

Josh Cline is the executive director at the Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. A walkable weekend in the town of Littleton
    Littleton is regularly praised as one of America’s best Main Streets, and we wondered if we...
  2. Littleton's Schilling Beer Co.
    Tradition meets modern science in the White Mountains at Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton.
  3. The best new chef-owned restaurants
    Check out Cure in Portsmouth and DRAE in Derry, NH for a great dining experience.
  4. Holiday Decorating Ideas
    Deck the halls! Easy seasonal ideas for holiday decorations you can use in your home.
  5. The Power of Platelets
    Platelet-rich plasma therapy can remedy tough-to-treat injuries
  6. Our favorite cafés in New Hampshire
    Coffee shops build communities with a warm welcome and a creative jolt. Here’s the “crema”...
  7. 2014 It List
    These influential Granite Staters represent the arts, philanthropy, business, the local food...
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags