The Wild Rose of PennsylvaniaJun 30, 2021 03:10PM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard
On Thursday evening, June 10, Rose Anna Moore (above) sat in Your Mama’s Mug in downtown Wellsboro, sipping a gin and tonic and surrounded by friends, to watch the first episode of Season 8 of ALONE on The History Channel. It’s a reality show that bills itself as “the most intense survival series,” in large part because there are “no camera crews” and “no gimmicks.” All eyes were trained on the television, waiting for Rose to appear. When she did, cheers filled the bar. “My voice came from the speakers and I thought this is so weird,” Rose says.
This season the show takes place in the Chilko Lake wilderness in British Columbia, the largest high elevation lake in Canada. Here temperatures can drop to as low as thirty degrees below zero, and salmon come to spawn. Grizzlies eat salmon, and upwards of 200 of the bears live in the area where contestants are dropped off to fend for (and film) themselves. About halfway into the episode, Rose’s story begins. Most folks in the bar know she owns and operates Moore’s Sports Center, a sporting goods store/training center in town, and is skilled at hunting, fishing, and trapping. But last year they did not know what she was doing when she was away from her shop and grown children for so long. The details of filming the show cannot be leaked, and even as I write this I don’t know how long Rose lasted and if she won the $500,000 prize.
Rose loves the natural world, believes adaptability is her greatest strength, and is mostly self-taught in survival skills. She dedicates time and resources to educating youth, especially girls, about conservation and the culture of hunting. On screen she explains, “My end goal in this experience is to prove that as a woman I can do this. I’ve always been the hunter, never the hunted. Unless I get attacked by a bear, I don’t think I’m tapping out.” More cheers.
“I’d forgotten so much of the early details,” says Rose. “I’d forgotten how smoky it’d been at first [from U.S. fires blown north]. I’d forgotten how graphic the footage was.” She’s referring to the result of eating too many kinnikinnik berries on day five, and how good the audio was. Though she’d crawled off camera, the sound of her vomiting was distinct.
How does a forty-three-year-old woman from Wellsboro come to be on such a show? Producers found her on social media.
“People think you have to have a big following to get chosen for the show, but I only had about fifty subscribers to my YouTube channel when they asked me to submit a video application,” she says. There were about 20,000 applicants. Out of those, twenty-four were invited to boot camp that June. “They do that to make sure everyone can do what they say they can. And to get a sense of personalities.” Rose was withdrawn at first. “Others actually had their own survival schools. I kept thinking Here I am, just a girl who hunts.” She got the news at the end of July that she’d made the final cut.
“We were all asking each other, have you heard? They wait till the last minute to tell us so we have to rush to prepare. We still didn’t know where we were going.”
Loyal watchers of the show know contestants are alone in the wilderness for as long as they can stand it—100 days is the max so far. But they’re away from their families much longer than that. (Missing family is a common reason for “tapping out.”) Season eight included a two-week quarantine. Rose didn’t learn where she was going till a few weeks before she left Wellsboro. In late July, she shipped out to quarantine hundreds of miles from and at a much lower elevation than their eventual location. “We were basically sitting there getting fat,” she says, which isn’t a bad thing in this case. But she was stir crazy. Eventually, careful to keep twelve feet away if she saw anyone, Rose started walking—fifty-plus miles in a few days. “The others said they’d look out their windows and say, there goes Rose with her backpack.”
The next two weeks of orientation were focused on learning bear safety, first aid, show rules, local and federal laws, getting their certificates for legal trapping, and intense camera training. Then came the day to leave. It was September, she’s not sure of the date. Rose was up at 3 a.m. to drink her last cup of coffee and give a quick call home. Leaving was staggered. Locations and order are assigned randomly through a series of drawings. Each spot has equal resources, including water, flora, fauna, and allows open fires. Luck would play a large role in everyone’s success. “You want to be dropped off early, so you have as much of the first day as possible to get set up.” Rose says with a wry grin, “I drew the last slot.”
Soon enough, after being frisked and searched, there she was, the boat roaring away, a large pack full of her ten chosen survival tools—including a long bow—basic survival clothing, and bear spray. (Firearms are not allowed. Complete gear lists can be found on history.com.) Next to that was more than fifty pounds of cameras—one large with tripod, one medium hand-held, and a few small ones.
She used the tarp to set up a temporary shelter. A thunderstorm was coming. It would be a while before she could really explore her area and try her hand at fishing. It was days before she saw the mountain range across the lake due to rain and smoke. No matter the weather, she had to shoot footage, which was collected every week at the random medical check. Other than that, Rose had no one around, only a satellite phone for emergency use.
Back in Wellsboro, Rose notes that “we have earthworms and grubs everywhere. I couldn’t find an earthworm there to save my life. Literally.” She laughs. The fishing had been disappointing. The lake was shallow so far out that she couldn’t throw a line in deep water. The grizzlies were abundant, but, other than grouse, prey animals were scarce. Local regulations forbid hunting squirrels and mice. “There was a mouse eating my stuff, and I wasn’t allowed to eat it.”
Rose wishes she’d approached the experience more like a game show rather than berating herself when she made a mistake. The mental and emotional fortitude required is as important as the physical. Everything takes a lot more effort when you’re hungry, and cameras required even more calories and time. When cutting a tree, Rose would lug the big camera and set it on the tripod. She might climb a tree to set one high, put another on the ground, and wear a GoPro on her head. Then she’d cut the tree, drag it past the cameras, go back and move the cameras to camp, grab the tree and drag it into camp past the cameras.
Since being home, Rose’s online presence is taking off. Her time is split between her store, her “My Quest” brand of products, preparing for her next hunt as she pursues the North American Superslam in archery, and mentoring new hunters. She also serves as the Northeast Regional Director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest, which gets venison to hungry Pennsylvanians. “I want to build community,” she says. She is unapologetic about who she is and what she does, but she doesn’t have the type of ego that enters the campfire circle before she does. “I never want to be the person you feel challenged by. I want to be the person who makes you want to challenge yourself.”
Season 8 opens with a quote that reads, “The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a human being is isolation.” Does Rose agree? “I would say yes if there would never be that social interaction again. But to be alone for smaller extended periods, I encourage that. I found out who I was long ago by being alone, and [then], when I come home, the level at which I appreciate people—I can’t explain that to someone who’s never experienced it.”
Season 8 of ALONE airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. through August 18 on The History Channel. Past episodes can be viewed on history.com. Find out more about what Rose is up to at mooreroseanna.com, on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Moore’s Sports Center is at 36 Plaza Lane; reach the store by phone at (570) 439-8024.