Surviving for 60 days and nights in the deadly swamps of Louisiana is something only the most legendary of survivalists would even attempt, and even Naked and Afraid XL's Rylie Parlett admits she was "absolutely intimidated" at the challenge ahead. The elite competitor opened up to PopCulture about enduring some of the harshest conditions and embracing what it means to be a "legend" ahead of Sunday's all-new episode of the Discovery show.
When it comes to taking on the never-before-attempted 60-day challenge this season, Parlett said experience with past challenges was not actually a comfort. "It's even worse when you've done a challenge because you know exactly what that entails," she explained. "The wool is off of the eyes for sure." Despite the daunting task ahead, Parlett was determined to prove herself as the only woman on her team, also consisting of Matt Wright and Ryan Holt. "You have to be and do legendary things or you should go home," she said.
Training for 60 days of primitive survival in the wilderness is a lot about body preparations, Parlett explained, because while you could get by in a 21-day challenge without eating, your body will give up on you far before you're halfway through the 60 days. Gaining as much weight as possible in a healthy way meant a lot of weight training and "snacking all the time," but Parlett managed to pack on 30 extra pounds to her 120-pound frame before beginning the challenge, which proved vital for her survival.
While she knew to expect freezing temperatures at night, nothing could truly prepare her for hours spent not being able to feel her toes, especially once Parlett learned that the swamp mosquitos don't die off with the change of seasons. "I could see my breath and I'm still getting bit by mosquitos, like what seventh level of hell is this?" Parlett recalled. In those moments, she reminded herself that with extreme lows come extreme highs: "If I didn't belong here or I didn't have what it takes to be here, I wouldn't," she often told herself.
The Louisiana swamps may provide a greater food source than other survival environments, but having to take on alligators and handle the mosquitos and parasites of the swamp is quite the trade-off for hunting opportunities. Wright's "crazy" hunting skills and Holt's "intense" drive made for an "incredible" team that "tackled everything like 110%" together, even through their ringworm crisis. "I call them my survival brothers," the survivalist told PopCulture. "We're so close and I couldn't imagine doing the challenge without them."
Connecting with primitive humankind and the ancestral knowledge that evolved our species means sticking it out through the darkest and most painful times. "You know, this is legendary, this is extreme," Parlett noted. "This is something human beings have inside of us. If we couldn't do this, we wouldn't have evolved to be here. ...and by the end, I did feel pretty legendary." Naked and Afraid XL airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery.