“72 HOURS” HOST BRANDON JOHNSON RECAPS THE SEASON FINALE “THE ROCKIES”
All good things must come to an end, but I’m pleased our Season was capped off with a great episode! We had shot the “American Southwest” show right before this one so travel was only a 5 hour bus ride away. Along the way I took in the expansive plains of New Mexico, watched thunderstorms erupt in the distance and let the gentle hum of our coach mobile lull us to sleep.
I awoke in Cimarron, NM at The St. James Hotel. The hotel would be my holding area until the shoot got under way. Little did I know, that the hotel was known for its legendary status of being haunted by the spirits of men murdered there in the 19th century during northeastern New Mexico’s “Wild West” days. Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James and Buffalo Bill Cody have all left their mark on the St. James as attested by the numerous bullet holes in the ceiling of the main dining room. Having already had my own history of paranormal activity, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m happy to report that the only odd thing I experienced was the extreme temperature drops in my room at night (usually associated with spirits present.) The St. James was a very eclectic and authentic place to have as lodging.
Experiencing The Rocky Mountains in the Fall was yet another gift. Though this course would prove extremely difficult for all contestants involved it also presented beautiful foliage, peaks and vistas. Being out in the wilderness reminded me of my youth and spoke to my Minnesota roots. The one thing that I found to be demanding at times was the elevation. The reality that we gave them oxygen to complete the course and find the money was a sobering fact. When we were shooting the final on top of Mount Baldy (12,500 ft. elevation) we had maybe twenty minutes to capture our ending as extreme weather was making its way toward us. Helicopters would not be able to scoop up the winning team if it was too dangerous. Time was tight. Once I got the call that Blue Team had found the case I came running to meet them. However, I forgot about the elevation and almost passed out before I could say one word. We were all laughing-I had to pause to catch my breath. If one watches closely you’ll see me fighting for air!
Speaking of weather, there was time when a series of Relief Drops were called during a mega thunderstorm. There I was flying in a metal vehicle watching lightning strike all around us. The wind and rain attacked our chopper and I doubted that my seat belt would do much good. Luckily everyone emerged safe and sound, but the elements also pushed Green Team to the breaking point. I felt that Anthony could’ve keep going, but Mother Nature got the best of him.
Until one has been out in the wild under those punishing conditions, it’s hard to truly empathize. I see it up close however and I know how hard these competitors are pushing themselves for the greater good of their team. Looking back I’m thankful for all the incredible adventures I was lucky enough to have had. I met some amazing people and worked with best of the best. Until the next adventure…
TAKING IN THE BEAUTY OF MOUNT BALDY
That’s a Wrap
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See you in the Sky!