At the overnight campsite, the ground was dotted with puddles as each team set up shelter out of the fern trees in the dark that were dry.
After setting up their shelters, fire proved difficult as the flint from Austin Vach’s fire steel fell out and he couldn’t find it. The Larsons also struggled to make a fire.
They ended up getting fire from Winter and Powell to cook the deer heart that Grylls brought by.
“Never underestimate how hard this is for these guys,” Grylls said as he watched them. “They are about to spend their first night in the rain forest. It’s intimidating by day, but at nighttime, it can be a whole different ballgame.”
The Vachs built their raft with larger logs so it would be sturdy and buoyant, but it ended up getting caught in driftwood and falling behind the other two teams.
“It’s taking its toll on these guys; they’re soaking wet,” Grylls observed from his spot on shore. “They’re only human.”
In the marsh, there were deep bogs and streams to cross, including one that was swollen and that they strung a rope across. At the beach, they built their signal fire and Grylls came in on a helicopter to pick up the teams.
“It was an unforgettable moment,” Jim Vach said of reaching the coast. “It’s been a marvelous experience for us.”
“Standing there on the beach at the end, knowing that I was there because of my dad’s help, is something I am very grateful for,” Austin Vach said. “I’m glad that he came with me on this. It’s an experience we’re going to share for a long time.”
Back at camp, all three teams got to go to the Feast Pit for a meal and a bath, and there were letters from home.
At Bear’s Camp that night, Grylls reviewed the final journey and praised the teams.
“Jim and Austin — calm and cool under pressure,” Grylls said of them. “You won a record three survival tests. But above all, you’ve worked your backsides off journey after journey. You’ve always supported each other.”
Both Jim and Austin said in an interview Tuesday their experiences through the Scouting program helped give them a taste of what it was like being out in the wild.
“I got the nickname ‘the knot guy,’ ” Austin said, adding that he used three basic knots — bow line, clove hitch and taut line — during the show.
Jim Vach added that before going on the show they “had made up our minds to do our best” no matter what was asked of them.
They were also able to share about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On the first night when they were sitting around the fire and introducing themselves, the Vachs shared they were Mormon and that Jim had served a mission in Finland and Austin in Argentina.
During the sixth journey, there were a half dozen people around the fire and Ryan Gwin asked Jim Vach about the LDS Church.
“I gave him a short summary of the apostasy and restoration,” said Jim Vach, who was baptized when he was 18. Also, Austin wore his CTR ring and was asked about it.
Austin Vach said they are planning their next adventure — hiking Mount Rainier in 2014 with his dad, three brothers and younger sister, who is currently serving an LDS mission.
“We’re going back with a heart full of gratitude for all of those little things we took for granted in this life and especially, good food,” he added.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: CTRappleye
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