"Once you go to these extreme levels," Kay said, "switching back to how we live in modern times is an on-going process."
That time by himself "really changed me. I can't imagine how anyone could go through what I went through and think you're the same. You go from living that raw to the way we live now. It's pretty glaring how out of balance we are. The pace of life is way too fast."
Kay said people in modern society "walk in a cloud most of the time, in a haze. They're so busy and distracted, they're not aware of what's going on around them. Once you have attained that awareness, it's hard to get rid of. You're hyper aware."
He travels the country teaching survivalist skills, something he had already done for 15 years prior to the show. Now he's just more in demand. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want some lessons.
Kay's time on "Alone," he said, validated many of his methods but he said he now better appreciates proper clothing to handle wet conditions such as wool and Gore-Tex. And his experience reaffirmed his thought that the most important item to bring is a metal pot. "It's more important than your knife," he said. "You can always improvise an edge tool. But it's hard to duplicate a metal container to boil water and make soup. In survivalist situations, you end up making a lot of soup. You throw everything in and drink in the nutrients."
The producers decided to return to Vancouver Island, given the high difficulty level of survival there for even people trained for this kind of living. For the first time, three women are competing, including an Aiken, S.C. survivalist specialist. And there is another Georgian involved: Justin from Augusta.
The concept is deceptively simple: last one who stays out by themselves wins the cash, same as last year. I expect people will last longer only because they now have a template of 56 days to beat set by Kay. Plus, they saw how the contestants suffered last year and will have a chance to do a bit more advance preparation.
"I'm excited," Kay said. "It's always interesting to see how different people handle things. No journey is the same. We're all unique. The thing I love about this show is nothing like this has ever been done before."
Kay is not an alarmist but he believes people's fascination with post-apocalyptic scenarios like "The Walking Dead" taps into a deep-seated understanding we live a life too attached to technology and not nature.
"At some point, a correction will occur," he said. "When that correction occurs, people want to have those skills, even if it's just a weather event. In Atlanta, people camped out in their cars after that big snow storm. It doesn't even have to be a real apocalypse. We need skills in case we're out there, even if it's short term."
"Alone," 9 p.m. Thursday, April 21, History (season two debut)