Blairsville’s Alan Kay talks about life after History’s ‘Alone,’ returning April 21

What Alan Kay looked like before he left for Vancouver Island.

What Alan Kay looked like before he left for Vancouver Island season one.

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, April 21, 2016

I am on vacation April 13-26 but I did my best to keep this blog populated while I was gone, at least a little bit. If you have any news or would like to read other entertainment news, please go to Jennifer Brett (jennifer.brett@ajc.com) and her AJC Buzz blog and Melissa Ruggieri (mruggieri@ajc.com) at AJC Music Scene.

Blairsville resident Alan Kay is like the Kelly Clarkson of History’s “Alone.” He’s now a survivalist superstar.

With the second season coming up April 21, he called to talk about life since he won the $500,000 prize. He spent 56 days by himself in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest with no camera crew, no human contact, plenty of predators and brutal, wet conditions, outlasting nine other dudes. (He had to shoot all his own footage.)

From a mental standpoint, Kay said it’s been a struggle to get back into regular life even 15 months later. In a weird way, he said, post-“Alone” life was a bigger adjustment than spending time on the show.

“Once you go to these extreme levels,” Kay said, “switching back to how we live in modern times is an on-going process.”

That time by himself “really changed me. I can’t imagine how anyone could go through what I went through and think you’re the same. You go from living that raw to the way we live now. It’s pretty glaring how out of balance we are. The pace of life is way too fast.”

Read my interview with Kay after he won season one.

Kay said people in modern society “walk in a cloud most of the time, in a haze. They’re so busy and distracted, they’re not aware of what’s going on around them. Once you have attained that awareness, it’s hard to get rid of. You’re hyper aware.”

He travels the country teaching survivalist skills, something he had already done for 15 years prior to the show. Now he’s just more in demand. He can be reached at guardian556@yahoo.com if you want some lessons.

Kay’s time on “Alone,” he said, validated many of his methods but he said he now better appreciates proper clothing to handle wet conditions such as wool and Gore-Tex. And his experience reaffirmed his thought that the most important item to bring is a metal pot. “It’s more important than your knife,” he said. “You can always improvise an edge tool. But it’s hard to duplicate a metal container to boil water and make soup. In survivalist situations, you end up making a lot of soup. You throw everything in and drink in the nutrients.”

The producers decided to return to Vancouver Island, given the high difficulty level of survival there for even people trained for this kind of living. For the first time, three women are competing, including an Aiken, S.C. survivalist specialist. And there is another Georgian involved: Justin from Augusta.

The concept is deceptively simple: last one who stays out by themselves wins the cash, same as last year. I expect people will last longer only because they now have a template of 56 days to beat set by Kay. Plus, they saw how the contestants suffered last year and will have a chance to do a bit more advance preparation.

“I’m excited,” Kay said. “It’s always interesting to see how different people handle things. No journey is the same. We’re all unique. The thing I love about this show is nothing like this has ever been done before.”

Kay is not an alarmist but he believes people’s fascination with post-apocalyptic scenarios like “The Walking Dead” taps into a deep-seated understanding we live a life too attached to technology and not nature.

“At some point, a correction will occur,” he said. “When that correction occurs, people want to have those skills, even if it’s just a weather event. In Atlanta, people camped out in their cars after that big snow storm. It doesn’t even have to be a real apocalypse. We need skills in case we’re out there, even if it’s short term.”

Want to read something scary about an electrical grid failure? Ted Koppel recently talked to me about that scenario.

TV PREVIEW

“Alone,” 9 p.m. Thursday, April 21, History (season two debut)


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