By Laura (Abernathy) Huffman
It’s easy to imagine that Discovery channel’s Nielsen ratings will be out of this world in Pulaski County, Missouri this Wednesday night. Following new episodes of “Naked and Afraid”, “Darkness” kicks off a two night survival event. The premiere episode was filmed at an undisclosed cave location in Pulaski County in the Ozark Mountains in early June.
“Darkness” introduces three skilled contestants, whom haven’t met, into an underground environment with only the most basic tools needed for survival—except for a light. The participants are dropped in at different locations within the underground system and have six days to find each other and their way out.
Why six days? Because experiments and testing have determined that six days without any visible light is the maximum threshold humans can tolerate before they crack. The darkness becomes the main obstacle that each competitor must overcome. As a member of a caving club myself, I have had the opportunity to experience “cave dark” more than once. As the minutes tick by the experiment can become terrifying. It does not take long for your mind to start playing tricks on you. Luckily, I was able to flick my headlamp back on to keep the darkness at bay. “Darkness” contestants did not have that luxury.
Filming in absolute dark led to many challenges for Electus, the production company. Production crews used specialized equipment designed for zero light environments. Military grade night vision goggles, FLIR thermal sensor cameras, LIDAR (light imaging detecting and ranging), drones, and remote operated vehicles were all deployed during the filming of the survival show. Filming “Darkness” would not have been possible twenty-years ago.
How did the three survivalists fare in the Caves of the Seven Serpents? Find out Wednesday night (August 2, 2017) at 9:00 p.m. C.S.T. on Discovery!
*Disclaimer—Laura (Abernathy) Huffman has been the secretary/treasurer of Roubidoux Grotto since the caving club was founded at the conclusion of the National Speleological Society Convention that was held in Waynesville, Missouri during July, 2015. She reminds viewers to NOT attempt to recreate the events depicted in “Darkness”. The show was filmed in an extremely controlled environment with medical and psychological staff on standby. Local cavers were also on set during the duration of the filming as stewards of the cave and it’s delicate features and wildlife. If you are interested in caving find a grotto near you by visiting www.caves.org. Download “A Guide to Responsible Caving” here