Scott D. Pierce: NBC’s Tamron Hall has fallen in love with southern Utah

First Published      Last Updated Oct 03 2014 02:15 pm

Tamron Hall has fallen in love with southern Utah — despite the trying circumstances of her only visit there.

The co-host of the third hour of "The Today Show" and anchor of MSNBC's "NewsNation," Hall spent 48 hours learning to be a survivalist an hour outside Kanab for Monday's episode of "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5).

"I'm from the great state of Texas," Hall said, "and when you're a Texas child, you believe there's nothing as beautiful as the flat landscape of Texas."

But seeing southern Utah for the first time turned out to be a "spiritual experience" for her.

"I'd never seen anything as beautiful as that landscape in my life," she said. "It took my breath away."

On "Running Wild," Grylls takes a different celebrity each week to some remote area and teaches them how to survive. Which is not something that's exactly in Hall's wheelhouse.

She went to church camp when she was 8 and was there "maybe 12 hours" before she called home and faked a stomach ache so her father would come and get her.

"I've never slept outside," she said. "I've never been in a tent. I was a Brownie, I think, for a week. I was not that kind of kid."

And she's not exactly that kind of adult, either. She brought along a "portable, butane curling irons, and Bear mocked me. And said we would use it to set a campfire. And had I used it, it would have only fused the dirt into my hair.

"There's no straightening your hair in the wild."

There is hiking and rappelling and building a fire and finding shelter and getting hungry and thirsty and dirty.

There was even a moment when she "really could have died" — when a boulder came loose and hit her. Grylls was concerned that it might have hit her head, which it did not.

"I'm not exaggerating," Hall said. "There was a moment when I thought, 'Do you know what? [Grylls] looks scared. He looks concerned.' And I've never had Matt [Lauer] look at me and think I was going to die on set."

She made it through the 48 hours, but it wasn't easy.

"I was not prepared, I'll be honest with you," Hall said. "I had no idea what to expect."

Having watched the show, she knew "there were a couple of things that I could not do. I don't want to get gross," but she was not going to bite into a raw fish or give herself an enema, "as he's done. I had my line."

Would she do it again?

"When the journey was over, my immediate reaction was — no," Hall said. But then she saw Bear a few weeks ago and thought, "I'm ready."

"But I can tell you, the landscape of Utah — I have to go back there. I may not go back rappelling, but it was just magical... I have got to get back to Utah. It's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.