President Barack Obama’s Running Wild Alaska episode with wilderness expert Bear Grylls airs on NBC on Thursday, and Grylls said the short trip showed an intimate and fun side of the commander-in-chief that has rarely been seen before.
They shared tea brewed from berries, ate bear-gnawed bloody salmon, talked about drinking urine and discussed climate change – all while snipers kept watch from the mountains and the official food taster looked on nervously.
‘He said it was one of the best days of his presidency,’ Grylls told reporters on a conference call last week. ‘There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, actually, “this is the president of America.”’
The episode was filmed in early September on a trek to Alaska’s rapidly shrinking Exit Glacier that was aimed at drawing world attention to climate change.
Last year alone, the Exit Glacier melted and retreated 187 feet toward the Harding ice field, which has itself lost 10 per cent of its mass since 1950.
Obama is the first sitting president of any nation to take part in Running Wild with Bear Grylls, following in the footsteps of celebrities like Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Zac Efron.
Grylls, a British former SAS soldier turned adventurer and survival specialist, said the idea for the TV episode came from the White House.
‘They [the White House] approached us, saying would we consider taking the president on an adventure to Alaska. I almost didn’t really believe it. I thought this was a spoof,] Grylls said.