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“The second time around was for me”

by JOSH McDONALD
Local Editor | May 14, 2024 1:00 AM

Not many people can say they’ve trekked across multiple continents completely naked. 

Lynsey McCarver has done it twice. 

McCarver, 36, is one of 12 survivalists on the newest season of the Discovery Channel’s hit reality series Naked and Afraid XL, which premiered Sunday evening. 

The regular episodes of Naked and Afraid take place over 21-day challenges where two people are paired up, stripped down, and forced to find their way through the wilderness with nothing more than a map, satchel, and machete. 

The XL edition of Naked and Afraid is the show’s version of an all-star game, but the challenge is extended to 40 days. 

A Silver Valley native and current resident of Pinehurst, in 2020 McCarver was asked to apply for a spot on the show after being discovered by one of the show’s talent scouts. 

“I never thought in a million years they would actually ask me,” McCarver said. 

She was featured in the second episode of season 13, in Lapalala, South Africa where she and another survivalist completed a 21-day challenge. This time around she’s in Columbia, South America, surviving the harsh conditions of the Columbian Badlands. 

“I needed my first challenge, it helped me discover things about myself and realize I had more grit than I ever thought,” McCarver said. “I also wanted to show my kids that their mom was a badass and that they can do anything they can put their minds to.” 

Her first challenge was a grueling experience that she still speaks fondly of, and because of the premier of the new season, she’s not giving away any spoilers to what happens in the episodes to come. 

“The second time around was for me,” McCarver said emphatically. “After handling everything that life could possibly throw at me I wanted to see if I could handle what Mother Nature could throw at me and really see what I was made of.”

Since her first foray into Naked and Afraid, McCarver has navigated a divorce, and all of the new challenges that come with being a single, working mom. 

It may come as a shock to many, but for McCarver, a show that forces you to literally be naked and afraid, is the thing that she has leaned into to heal herself from her life experiences. 

“My favorite part of doing these challenges is who I become once I complete them, after going through that much suffering you really don't take things for granted anymore,” McCarver said. “It gives you a clearer head of how the world is supposed to work. You have so much alone time with your thoughts you are forced to solve your own issues and problems. It’s kinda like my own twisted way of therapy.”  

McCarver’s mother, Deanne Fitzgerald, wasn’t terribly surprised by her daughter’s initial decision to be on a show like Naked and Afraid but is incredibly proud of her for doing it a second time – especially going into it knowing the challenges and understanding that they’d be even more difficult. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of Lynsey’s courage and fortitude during this challenge,” Fitzgerald said. “I know this has been quite the experience for her and she has made life-long friends.”

A Silver Valley girl at heart, it’s not the conditions, it’s not the animals – which include giant snakes, territorial caiman, and stalking jaguars, that bothered her most during her two experiences on the show. It’s not even the nudity.

“The BUGS,” she said. “Gah, those suckers were awful, everything wants your blood. I feel like after about two minutes of being naked the awkwardness wears off, it’s definitely weird at first and then it starts sinking in that you need to get water, shelter, fire and the real worries start to pop into your head. Not having clothes just makes it all ten times worse it strips you down into your rawest form.” 

McCarver says that her favorite moment from this newest season has yet to be revealed, but “you'll know it when you see it.” 

Naked and Afraid XL airs on Sunday nights at 5 p.m. (PST) on the Discovery Channel.