A Hollywood life, at least as it's portrayed in the glitzy and sometimes gritty pages of the entertainment press, seems like it would be the last place one might want to escape from. Private plane flights to film festivals, after-after-parties, sparkling swag bags, meetings with sponsors, agents and studio heads, a coterie of personal assistants, publicists, agents and managers - why you'd be nuts to miss a single minute, right?
Well, not necessarily. Too much of a good thing, whether it's working, partying or being pampered can exact a psychic toll. And as Bear Grylls and other nature lovers know, there's nothing like the power of the wild to restore and revitalize anyone - even the fabulously successful. Hence, Running Wild with Bear Grylls.
Each week, the legendary adventurer, survival instructor and man's man will accompany a major star on a 48-hour adventure into the wilderness. Together they'll run a high stakes gauntlet of mental and physical obstacles with a reward of spiritual renewal waiting at each remote extraction point.
Our first episode features heartthrob Zac Efron. The star of the "High School Musical" series and this past summer's "Neighbors" found fame at an early age. But despite his success, he's always found refuge in the outdoors. As a child growing up near San Luis Obispo, Zac camped plenty, but now he's in for a whole new experience: surviving the Catskills, Bear Grylls style.
After hopping out of a helicopter and solo parachuting to earth, Zac and Bear must recover their packs and provisions, then route-find their way to a distant extraction point. Bear explains they'll live off the land, even if it means feasting on a dead ground hog, caught under a small waterfall. To Zac's good luck, the animal's been rotting too long and can't be eaten. The star and the survival legend settle instead for a meal of a wild egg omelet, stuffed with grubs.
After miles of hiking through the wild, the duo finds shelter, starts a fire with a battery and finds time for a heart-to-heart conversation before turning in for a few hours' rest on bare ground. It may not be so comfortable, but still it's an exhausted, all-consuming and all-satisfying sleep away from the lights, stresses and temptations of the modern world. Don't miss the bonus scenes where Zac teaches Bear how to dance and how to make s'mores.
In the morning, the journey continues - and another obstacle presents itself: a chasm crossing. A stout rope is the only way across. After Bear demonstrates the Commando Crawl (a terrifying, yet stable way of inching oneself across a rope) it's Zac's turn to face this true test of strength, agility, balance and courage. After nearly falling, the movie star rights himself and finds his way across. With every challenge, Zac finds a deeper confidence and a deeper bond with Bear.
The pair comes to the end of the trip and a final test: a sheer rock rappel alongside a waterfall. It's easily a 140-foot drop to an icy, shallow pool of water. It's terrifying, but descend they must; an ATV and a trip back to civilization waits at the bottom. Bear tosses the climbing rope over the ledge, but the rope isn't quite long enough to reach all the way to the water. The pair decides to take a calculated risk that the drop from the end of the rope won't be more than 20 feet.
They stuff their shirts into their backpacks, toss the packs over the edge and then begin a two-man rappel down the cliff. It's a hair-raising journey, but Zac loves every moment. As they reach the end of the rope and hover over the pool below, it's now or never. Bear releases the carabineer, and the two men splash into the frigid pool, exhilarated.
As they pull themselves up on shore, Zac and Bear are both elated. They've conquered the wild and their inner fears once more.