There’s truly no limit to what many people do to accomplish their goals in survival TV shows. While some might put themselves at high risk while hunting and others prefer to simply collect fruits and wait for the best, the truth is that shows such as “Alone” let audiences see some of the most difficult things one might do to survive another day in complete isolation, and with no outside help.
However, even if juicy compensation is waiting for the winners, some never make it to the end of the road, either by choice or because they have no other option than to retire.
So which one of these situations apply to the two-times “Alone” contestant Nicole Apelian? Keep with us to know all about her participation in the show, the reason she left, her background, career and so much more!
Why Did She Leave The Show?
During the years “Alone” has aired, Nicole Apelian has appeared in the show twice, the first time in the second season and later in the fifth, premiered in 2018. Although both times she tapped out of the competition at some point, the second time was the most concerning due to the health complication she faced right there.
As it happens, Nicole has been suffering from multiple sclerosis since the late 1990s, and though she mostly keeps the illness under control, she began experiencing serious health complications related to it after being vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis virus a week before the show sent them into the wild. Nicole’s immune response to the vaccine rapidly worsened, to the point that she was almost completely paralyzed by the ninth day of competition, with no other option than to leave, and it took her four months to finally recover.
As Nicole affirmed on a Facebook post, she hoped that her experience not only spread awareness about what it’s like to live with multiple sclerosis, but also to let people know that even when symptoms are very serious, recovery is still possible. Nicole has now completely recovered from her paralysis, and is an active supporter of alternative medicine methods.
Now out via the History Channel's website! The real reason I had an MS attack on "Alone" and how I'm doing now. MS…
Why Did She Leave The First Time?
Back in the second “Alone” season, Nicole’s reason for leaving the contest, was her need to see her family after spending 57 days in the wild. Following the arrival of the rescue team, she admitted not wanting to leave, but felt compelled to due to her family: ‘Over two months I’ve been away from them, and I know they need me, I just feel it in my gut’. she tearfully admitted in front of the cameras.
Needless to say, Nicole’s wish to see her family again was totally understandable given their young age. At the time, her sons Colton and Quinn were twelve and eight years old respectively, but she still made it clear that she totally loved the experience of being in “Alone”: ‘I love it here. I feel like I could just stay’, she affirmed before leaving the show. The competition continued for nine days more, before David McIntyre outlasted everyone else by surviving 66 days out there.
Following the end of “Alone”, Nicole met the show’s first season winner Alan Key, with whom she connected right away. They started dating not long afterwards, and together held workshops to interact with people interested in survival. All in all, the experience left Nicole with good memories.
Where Is Nicole Now?
Nowadays, life is looking great for Nicole Apelian. While it’s unknown if she’s planning on returning to “Alone” in future seasons, she has built a stable career as a healthy lifestyle expert thanks to her social media, books and alternative medicine resources she provides on her website.
Following her latest participation in “Alone”, Nicole’s life has gone through many changes. She moved out of Oregon State to establish her family in the rural Washington State’s area of Willapa Hills. Being surrounded by nature full-time required some adjustments to her lifestyle, but she apparently deals with it very well: ‘we’ve cultivated four organic gardens for food and medicinal plants, expanded to a 40-tree orchard, and we have a flock of hand-raised chickens for eggs’, as she wrote on her blog.
Meanwhile, Nicole’s multiple sclerosis condition inspired to spread awareness about this disease, and help other people through her experiences and advice. On top of that, Nicole has published several books about natural medicine, is involved with the non-profit The Origins Project, is an advisor for survival TV shows, and is often interviewed in a wide variety of podcasts related to her area of expertise. Needless to say, her life is more than busy nowadays, but she seems to be great at doing what she loves the most.
Background As A Survivalist
Surviving almost two months alone in the wild with only a knife isn’t a feat easily achieved by anyone, but Nicole Apelian isn’t just an ordinary person.
Nicole’s beginnings in survivalism date way long before her debut in “Alone”. According to an interview with Rewild Yourself podcast, Nicole was always attracted to life outdoors from her childhood, a passion supported especially by her stepfather, who actually introduced her to her earliest adventures and expeditions in nature. Nicole would grow up to pursue a nature-related career, eventually taking one of the most important choices in her life by temporarily moving to Africa to further her studies, and work for the Survey Corps at the same time: ‘I was just really looking for something kind of outside the box than I was doing research-wise’, she admitted.
Her time with the corps soon ended, but Nicole couldn’t just leave so she joined a research program which kept her in Africa for years, tracking lions in the bush and simply letting nature take her over. Eventually Nicole’s research ended, but the experiences she had during those years, living in a tent surrounded by wilderness and wildlife, were surely an unforgettable and life-changing experience.
While Nicole Apelian’s educational background is varied, her professional accomplishments have always stayed in the field of science and naturee She graduated with a Biology degree from McGill University in 1991, then pursued a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Oregon a couple of years later.
In the following years, Nicole led several researches especially focused on the impact of oil spills on marine species in Alaska, also working with the Wildlife and National Parks’ Department. However, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, Nicole’s research in science was partially interrupted as she dealt with her illness. Later in 2009, Nicole enrolled into Prescott College to study lions in Africa as part of the 10-year-long Okavango Lion Research Project, eventually completing her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology in 2013.
Besides being a researcher and woman deeply passionate about science, Nicole is an avid herbalist whose self-made recipes in natural medicine and food have apparently alleviated her multiple sclerosis symptoms: ‘she went from bedridden to being fully alive and from surviving to thriving’, as her website reads.
Did She Work In A Movie?
Unbeknownst to many, Nicole’s involvement with the entertainment world goes beyond her appearances in “Alone”. Since her first appearance in the show in 2016, Nicole’s growing popularity as a survivalist and vast experience in science landed her a stint as a consultant in “Leave No Trace”, a film directed by Debra Granik which focused on the father-daughter relationship between Will and Tom and their isolated lifestyle in a forest in Oregan.
To lead the movie to completion, Nicole and Granik worked together to make the story more compelling and fitting to what living in the isolated wilderness is really like. Nicole met Granik only once, through a mutual friend in the industry, before deciding to team up: ‘During our conversation, they were scribbling down a lot of notes, so many that I remember them spilling over onto a napkin’, she recalled in an interview with Bleecker Street Media.
Besides proposing changes to the script, Nicole supervised set details and even trained the actors, to make certain situations look more realistic on screen: ‘I did a range of things from working on physical movements-what someone would do in a wilderness-living situation or survival situation’, she added.
Nicole’s work paid well, as the movie and actors were awarded by association, such as Los Angeles Film Critics and the San Diego Film Critics Society upon its premiere in 2018.
Career In Entertainment
Beside her stint with “Leave No Trace”, Nicole also worked on other productions. Firstly, in 2019 she was a consultor and participant in “Surviving The Stone Age – Adventure To The Wild”, a educational documentary series which for four weeks took eight survivalists and nature experts to an isolated mountainous region in Bulgaria, in order to imitate and discover the methods and lifestyle of people from the Stone Age.
As well, Nicole appeared in a survival training guide which served as extra material for “Leave No Trace”. In the video produced by Universal Pictures, Nicole taught influencers Kate Ansari and Jeana Travels the most important skills necessary to survive in the wild, some of which were already explored in the movie.
More recently, Nicole was deeply involved with the movie “Solitude”, directed by Mick Strawn and Jeremy Brown. The film centers around an influencer whose adventure living in isolation for a survival TV show, turns into a chain of unbelievable horrors. Besides being a consultant for the movie, “Solitude” also marks Nicole’s debut as a co-producer, and actress for her portrayal of a medical worker. While there’s no official date for the film’s premiere, it’s exciting to know that Nicole is working on these types of creative projects.
Not only is Nicole Apelian’s knowledge vast enough to land her projects on TV and develop her own ventures, but she’s also quite accomplished when it comes to writing. Her first book “The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies” released in 2018, was a complete guide on how to successfully identify backyard and wild plants with medical attributes in the US.
— Tomita Taro (@taro_tomita) October 13, 2022
A year later, Nicole released her second book, “A Reference Guide to Surviving Nature: Outdoor Preparation and Remedies”, a manual full of useful and educational techniques for hikers and nature-passionate people, into surviving in the wild or simply to make their camping adventures easier, regardless of their experience. Then in 2022, Nicole published her third book – “The Forager’s Guide” – which focuses on effectively identifying plants, fruits and herbs which could either be turned into food or medicine. As well, this book also identifies a wide variety of weeds, plants and mushrooms potentially harmful or poisonous.
As if authoring several books wasn’t enough of an achievement, Nicole has been featured in other books such as the spiritual themed “Listening in the Dark”, “You and I, as Mothers” and “Born Primal”. On top of those, Nicole’s extensive knowledge of natural medicine could be found on her website’s newsletter section.
Knowing Nicole is a woman of many talents, it’s not surprising to know she’s invested her time and knowledge in growing an online business. Through her Apothecary online, Nicole offers not only a wide variety of resources related to wellness, but also sells natural tinctures and salves which she affirms have positive medicinal effects.
Although Nicole uses these products herself, she always makes sure her customers know that these items aren’t approved by medical authorities, as well as emphasizing she isn’t a health professional.
As matter of fact, most of Nicole’s social media accounts promote her Apothecary products, courses and public speaking events. However, Nicole is also involved with EcoTours International, a project she started with Jon Young, and which offers environmentally conscious tours in Africa. Their venture’s mission is to offer their customers a different experience from common tourist tours, focusing instead on providing a culturally and spiritually rich adventure for their customers.
Nicole’s mission in joining “Alone” wasn’t only to prove to herself that she could survive the challenge. As she said in an interview with Bustle.com, her goal was to inspire people and relay the message of perseverance to them: ‘It was really important for me and the other women to be able to be there, to be role models for girls growing up’, she affirmed.
Nicole’s message reached many people all around the world, successfully turning her into one of the most memorable contestants to appear in the show. However, Nicole is more than just a survival TV show star. She’s an inspiring example of how passion, humility and resilience are the things needed the most while following our dreams.