All There Is to Know About Gold Rush: White Water

There was a time when gold mining was a big deal and people made fortune from it. Who could imagine it still could be a big deal in this era?! This is exactly what the crew on “Gold Rush” has done for more than a decade.

Gold / Kayla Johanson / Kayla Johanson, Dustin Hurt / Dustin Hurt.
Source: Discovery Channel

As if gold mining isn’t dangerous enough, gold mining at the bottom of a river full of whitewater rapids is just stupid, right? But not for the geniuses on Discovery’s “Gold Rush: White Water.” The show has many fans. But there’s a lot you don’t know about it. Find out here.

What Is ‘Gold Rush: White Water’ About?

For those who are new to the show, a little summary wouldn’t hurt, would it? On the “Gold Rush” spinoff, the Dakota Boys assemble a team of daredevil divers, mountaineers, and mechanics on a mission to where no miner has ever dreamed of exploring!

A promotional shot for the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

Where? The freezing depths of plunge pools in whitewater rapids. These places have only just become accessible per Discovery. Nothing is stopping these guys. They will dive in deep, raging torrents with a six-inch suction dredge. One wrong move could be fatal. And they know this.

Next-Level Gold Mining

We know it is a spinoff of “Gold Rush,” but White Water is gold mining at its most extreme! Getting to the creek each day requires nerves of steel, as it means a 400-foot zipline voyage across a death-defying 400-foot canyon. And that’s not half of it.

Fred Hurt's crew dives into the cold, rushing waters of Alaska.
Source: Discovery Channel

Wild creatures, harsh weather, and hypothermia due to the cold water await the Dakota Boys on their dangerous quest. But they need a handsome ROI for fellow gold miner, Todd Hoffman, very soon. The heat is on. But can they tame the wildness, strike gold, and survive?

There’s a New Kid on the Block

The show, now in its fifth season, follows Fred and Dustin Hurt as they venture out on their own in search of riches. Naturally, they’ll need aid along the road, and as revealed in the Season 5 premiere, they’ll be enlisting the services of some real heavy hitters.

Kayla takes a picture of herself during a hike.
Source: Discovery Channel

Kayla Johanson, a miner who is used to embarking on solo adventures in the wilderness, is finally joining a team effort on Discovery’s “Gold Rush: White Water.” She used to do it alone, but now she’s part of a team alongside Fred and his son, Dustin.

Lone-Wolf Miner Kayla Johanson

During the Season 5 premiere, viewers were given a glimpse inside Johanson’s background, which included her early interest in mining when she was a teenager. Since then, she dredged by herself in Alaska until the Hurts came knocking. Now she’s working with them.

Kayla speaks to the camera during an episode.
Source: Discovery Channel

What else do you need to know about the skilled dredger? If you look at Kayla Johanson’s Instagram profile, you’ll notice that she has a strong affinity for precious stones. A “Gold Diggin’ B****” and a “gold dredger,” is how she describes herself.

All Gold Diggers Love Money

While there are plenty of photos of Johanson out in the wilderness searching for treasure, there are an equal number of photos of her wearing jewelry. This is because she does more than simply set the gold aside for a rainy day.

A photo of a jewelry piece made of an Alaskan gold nugget, amethyst, emerald, and sterling silver.
Source: Instagram /@kaylanuggetjohanson

In her spare time, she crafts beautiful pieces of jewelry from gold nuggets, which she offers for sale on her Etsy page, ThePeekingDoe. There, she offers genuine gold pieces and other gemstones ranging from turquoise to opal to wear as jewelry.

Kayla Johanson Was Unsure About Joining ‘Gold Rush: White Water’

It’s fair to think that Johanson already had a lot on her plate when the producers of “Gold Rush: White Water” reached out to her. Considering she has a deep interest in mining, it would be logical to think she was a fan of the show.

A picture of Kayla at home.
Source: Facebook

However, as she stated in an interview with that she was nervous about joining the team.

“When [Hurt] called me, I was kind of on the fence about doing it at first because I had my own dredging operation going,” she revealed to the website.

Behind the Scenes, Not Everyone Loves a Female Boss

Johanson goes on to discuss how she was anxious about being the only woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated field. It seems likely that we will see more of Johanson in the future, as the Hurts’ quests continue to grow.

A still of Kayla in an episode from the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

Johanson said she encountered strong resistance when she first became the leader of this new series.

“A lot of guys just aren’t used to working under a woman,” she explained. “Especially in this kind of a job.” It turns out not everyone likes a female boss!

You’ll Have to Get Used to Her

The “Gold Rush: White Water” leader adds that while the start was a little bit difficult, the team has warmed up to her.

“I think at the end, they warmed up pretty good,” the team leader said. “But in the beginning, it was a bit rocky.”

A closeup on Kayla in an episode from the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

It makes Johanson’s work easier now that her crew is used to her. But, she maintains, she doesn’t need to prove herself.

“I’ve been mining for a while, so I don’t really think I have to prove anything to myself,” she said. “I know what I can do.”

Gold Runs in Kayla’s Veins

While jewelry making appears to be a lucrative side business, Johanson’s true passion has always been mining. She told Distractify that her “number one thing” is working as a gold miner. And, according to Johanson, she has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

Kayla rides a vehicle in a still from an episode.
Source: Discovery Channel

“I’m just going to keep going until my body broke down and tells me it can’t do it anymore,” she said.

Johanson isn’t the first in her family to mine gold. Her granddad also went looking for gold in Arizona. We’re not sure if he found any, but that didn’t stop his granddaughter.

She Has a Good-Luck Charm!

Johanson might be doing the same thing, but she isn’t mining for gold in the same place. Her granddad’s gold mining was done in Arizona. She’s moved to Alaska, a whole lot farther north. She’s been dredging for quite some time and has progressed to a rather large machine.

A photo of Kayla wearing her lucky charm.
Source: Instagram /@kaylanuggetjohanson

She does, however, keep a good-luck charm with her. Johanson wears the first piece of gold she ever mined around her neck and thinks it to be a lucky necklace she must have at all times. She hardly goes anywhere without it.

The Real Reason Fred Left ‘Gold Rush’

Let’s not forget, Johanson isn’t the only one on the show! How about the Dakota Boys, particularly Fred? Even though “Dakota” Fred had been a vital part of “Gold Rush: White Water” for four seasons, he announced his departure in season 5.

Fred speaks to the camera in a still from the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

Fred and his team had previously quit the original “Gold Rush” series owing to financial reasons. According to Discovery, “Fred Hurt will be hanging up his wetsuit and entrusting his dream of hitting the motherlode to his son, Dustin,” while the rest of the Dakota Boys will continue mining.

What Fred Told Dustin

“Dustin, I’m not going to be running a crew with you,” Fred said during the “Gold Rush: White Water” 2021 trailer. Fred stepped down, but he also “sets out on a mission to keep the family’s mining legacy alive,” according to Discovery. It’s unclear how Fred intends to accomplish this.

A closeup on Fred’s expression before diving into the rush cold water.
Source: Discovery Channel

It could be to check out some other mining prospects, but nobody knows. However, viewers should expect to see Fred throughout the season, albeit in a less active position in gold mining this year rather than completely exiting the show. Now, Johanson’s introduction makes more sense.

Dustin Has Plans for the Show

Fred’s son, Dustin, is doubling the team’s crew members, so Fred will most likely still be available for guidance in the new season. McKinley Camp has been chosen for this new endeavor and Dustin Hurt has risked everything by assembling a needed second crew.

A portrait of Dustin in a still from the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

We imagine this is to get to the goal faster. Hurt has staked his entire season on an unknown dive site and dredge. He’s recruited some fresh faces, including Johanson and Eric Foster, a Navy diver with an impressive resume. However, they still require additional manpower.

The Badass Firefighter, Stamper

Mark Stamper is one of the most notable newcomers. He joins Dustin’s second dredge team, which also includes Scott Allen, Johanson, and Foster.

Stamper, a former firefighter and suction dredge gold diver, admits he isn’t as badass as he imagined in an exclusive teaser with Ace.

A picture of Mark Stamper.
Source: Facebook

“I thought I was a badass when I first came up to Alaska eight years ago,” he said, “and I realized that everybody up here is badass.”

Stamper spent two seasons in the Bering Sea dredging for gold, and he’s only here for one reason: “Gold is the key to anything.”

Dustin Makes a Huge Confession

Some people on TV or movies want to go back home to watch themselves on the small screen. We don’t blame them. But that’s not Dustin Hurt from “Gold Rush: White Water”.

The reality TV star and his gold mining veteran father, Fred, aren’t interested in viewing themselves on-screen.

A promotional portrait of Dustin standing on rocks.
Source: Discovery Channel

They are fully in control of the task in the Chilkat Mountains. And they’re usually too busy to notice how they’re portrayed on the Discovery series. However, Dustin confessed to Looper that not watching the show could put him and his team at a disadvantage.

The Cameramen Don’t Show Everything

While admitting that he never watches himself, Dustin also revealed the cameramen don’t capture all the action. They can only get about 80% of what’s happening!

“I’m at a disadvantage, because I’ve never watched the show ever, and I don’t know that I ever will,” he told Looper.

An image of the cold rush water.
Source: YouTube

“I don’t know what they show anyone…but I can tell you when the camera’s around. I think they probably get 80-90% of it, but it’s those clutch moments where things really go down. They can’t always follow us where we go because some of the places are just too dangerous for [the] camera.”

Kayla Reveals Some Nerve-Wracking Details

Aside from working in a physically demanding job, these gold miners must also battle Mother Nature. The “Gold Rush” crew must fight daily in the face of adversity, including rockslides, earthquakes, and freezing weather, to get their hands on that famed precious element.

A picture of Kayla in action.
Source: Instagram /@kaylanuggetjohanson

So, do the members of the team ever fear for their safety while on the job? According to Johanson, “it’s definitely in the back of your mind,” but she tries “not to live in fear.”

“I feel like you hold yourself back if you’re too scared of things,” she added.

But That’s Not the Scariest Part

While Johanson acknowledged that the team encountered numerous rockslides throughout the season, she stated that the most nerve-wracking aspect of the job for her was dealing with a large number of people and cameras on scene. This is hardly surprising considering she’d mined alone for so long.

A still of an episode.
Source: Facebook

“I was kind of nervous because I’m just used to working by myself or just with one other person most of the time. So, it was just a lot to deal with all at once,” Johanson revealed. But the “Gold Rush: White Water” star is getting used to it.

Father and Son: the ‘Dakota Boys’

Dustin and his father, Fred, were originally introduced to viewers in Season 2 of “Gold Rush,” where they were dubbed the “Dakota Boys.” By Season 4, they had begun an expedition at Cahoon Creek, a notoriously difficult site to reach.

A promotional portrait of Dustin and Fred before diving into the water.
Source: Discovery Channel

It showed that this group wasn’t to be toyed with and that they would go to any length to secure a fortune in gold. It should come as no surprise that the cast was quickly given a spinoff series, “Gold Rush: White Water,” which debuted in 2018.

The Dakota Boys Are Experienced

To make the expedition, effort, and expense that goes with each season worthwhile, the team has traveled around the country to numerous claims with different crews, hoping each one will provide enough gold. Have they gotten enough gold or are they rich enough?

A portrait of Dustin Hurt.
Source: Discovery Channel

It’s safe to say that the Hurts know what they’re doing when it comes to gold mining, and they’ve been successful in their endeavors each season and on every expedition. As a result, it shouldn’t surprise you when you learn how much Dustin Hurt is worth.

The Dakota Boys Are Rich!

Dustin Hurt’s net worth is estimated to be around $1 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. They didn’t go in-depth on where the money came from or what percentage of it was from mining, but the article does state that Hurt didn’t go into mining right away.

A picture of Dustin at home drinking a glass of wine.
Source: Facebook

After high school, he worked in construction before becoming a wildland firefighter. He then proceeded to work with his father at the Jim Placer Mine, mining for gold. He first appeared on “Gold Rush” during the second season, although the team didn’t have the best results.

Fortune Smiled on Dustin in Season 3

Luckily, their fortunes improved when they returned for Season 3 of “Gold Rush,” during which they mined an estimated $250,000 worth of gold. It should come as no surprise to “Gold Rush” watchers that the Hurts are now millionaires because things have only gotten better with time.

A picture of Dustin holding a piece of gold.
Source: Discovery Channel

With “Gold Rush: White Water” still going strong, there’s a huge chance that those statistics are only likely to rise in the next few years, so keep an eye out for this big star in the mining industry. We certainly will be on the lookout.

Dustin and Kayla Are Long-Time Friends

Dustin Hurt has been friends with Johanson for a long time. The “Gold Rush: White Water” star reached out to her when he was curious if she would be interested in joining his team. Presumably, this was after he learned his father, Fred, would no longer be around full-time.

The Gold Rush crew take a picture together.
Source: Facebook

While she is excited about the new opportunity, Johanson has seen that things are done in a little different manner than she is accustomed to.

“I’m a little nervous just to see if I fit in with everyone,” she admitted before the show’s debut.

Kayla Enjoys Keeping Her Life Private

It’s important to note that Johanson isn’t one to talk about herself all that much. She discloses very little about her personal life or her relationship status, and as a result, we know very little details about her life off-screen.

A photo of Kayla in her car.
Source: Facebook

We don’t know if she is married if she is seeing someone, or anything else. As she seems extremely comfortable working alone, we get the feeling that she might be single, though she doesn’t explicitly state that she is or isn’t. Could someone help figure that out, please?

Kayla Johanson Has a Cat

We don’t have too much information about her love life, but we at least know something Johanson loves! She has a cat named Oro (the Spanish word for “gold”), and she appears to adore her feline companion.

Kayla takes a picture with her cat at home.
Source: Facebook

Johanson’s dog, Roxy, also appears to be with her at all times, and the two of them seem to be good friends. She posts images of her animals on her social media accounts, and they are so cute.

She Loves the Outdoors

Have you ever met a person who is both private and who enjoys the outdoors? We most certainly have, and here’s another one for you. If there is one thing we can deduce about this new reality star, it is that she enjoys spending time outdoors.

A picture of Kayla in the show / A portrait of Kayla at home.
Source: YouTube

On her social media pages, Johanson posts an equal number of images of her cat and dog, her jewelry, and the environment outside her car or home. She appears to enjoy being outside, and she also has a good eye for taking photographs.

Is ‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Fake?

You may think this is an absurd question, but it certainly isn’t. Of course, the show has lots of daredevil scenes, but you can never be so sure with these “reality” TV shows. It is a popular Discovery Channel show, yet there is speculation that the show might be fake.

A still of Dustin in a promotional shot for the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

The reality show is set in Alaska, and it certainly won’t be the first show from Alaska accused of being staged. Fred Hurt revealed in a chat with TV Insider that “Gold Rush: White Water” is a “real” reality TV.

‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Breaks Golden Record

“Gold Rush: White Water” might have just begun, but it has already broken a huge “golden” record. They discovered what was the largest nugget anyone had seen in all the previous seasons. Fred’s final weight was 13.1 ounces.

A picture behind the scenes of an episode.
Source: Discovery Channel

Dustin, on the other hand, was the clear winner, taking home 33.6 ounces of the rare yellow gold. They have found about 50 ounces in all, which is almost 3x the amount of gold they have discovered previously. That’s a lot of gold, but Dustin isn’t stopping soon.

‘I Always Want More’

Dustin, Fred, and their crew have been mining claims in Alaska’s remote Chilkat Range for some time, and he’s back in Rockfall Ravine for Season 5 of “Gold Rush: White Water,” operating two mining teams and aiming for bigger gold totals.

Dustin stands before a waterfall as he speaks to the camera.
Source: Discovery Channel

“There is never going to be a moment where a gold miner is satisfied with the amount of gold that they have,” he told Looper. “So, I always want more.” He also shared how he got into gold mining and the endless difficulties of his job.

Dustin Almost Fell to His Death

One of the show’s most appealing aspects is the crew’s ability to work together and build a bond. When asked by Looper if there was any occasion where a team member stepped up in a crucial moment of creativity to save the day, Dustin made a chilling revelation.

A picture from a dangerous dredge.
Source: Discovery Channel

“I can think of hundreds,” he said. “Well, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is my guys saving my life. Last season, last year…the years run into each other…where I fell onto a dredge and almost went over a 50-foot waterfall.”

Dustin Has Been Close to Death Several Times

Everyone who watches the show knows the crew put their lives at risk every season. But you might not understand how close to death they come. The reason is that not all the scenes are captured on camera. And, of course, a near-death scene cannot be recreated!

A closeup on Dustin’s facial expression as he stares into the rushing water.
Source: Discovery Channel

“And there’s countless times that that type of thing has happened,” Dustin revealed. “They don’t always get it on film. But that type of thing happens more often than you would think. And we must rely on each other to stay alive. It’s a big deal.”

Dustin Reveals One of His Biggest Challenges

The crew on “Gold Rush: White Water” faces different obstacles and each one has a story to tell. One of Johanson’s biggest challenges was having to deal with many people and the dangers they faced with nature. Dustin is different, but not too far away.

A still of Dustin during an episode.
Source: Discovery Channel

“Everything out there’s basically trying to take us down,” he shared with Looper. “It feels almost like a small war. I have a crew and Mother Nature has its crew, and we just battle. It just never ends, the daily battle trying to fight this thing.”

Dustin Admits His Father Is Getting Old

Fred might have taken on a less prominent role in the new season, but it wasn’t because of age. Dustin’s father is still strong enough to mine gold, but his son admits he’s getting older. “I could tell you that Fred’s starting to get – he’s almost 80 years old.”

A picture of Dustin with his father.
Source: Facebook

“And I don’t think he’s gonna be as full-time as he usually is. Getting up there in age just like anybody would.”

As mentioned earlier, Fred has moved to a background role.

“Yeah, Fred didn’t want to run a crew this year,” Dustin said.

Dustin, Why Is It ‘Fred’ and Not ‘Dad’?

It’s worth noting that Dustin refers to his father as Fred rather than Dad, Pops, or something similar.

Of course, it’s not unheard of to call your father by his first name, but it’s usually in certain circumstances that aren’t the case with the pair.

A promotional portrait of Fred for the show.
Source: Discovery Channel

So why does Dustin call his father by his first name? Fred explained it thus:

“Well, he started working for me when he was 16 and he said it wasn’t cool to call your boss ‘Dad’. It’s just sorta stuck, and it’s like a nickname now.”

‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Recap

When Dustin got to McKinley Creek, he discovered it was completely shrouded in the snow. Due to the deteriorating environment, it is safe to say that snow has displaced gold as the new precious commodity in the area. But there is a catch, one that the crew isn’t used to.

Dustin shows the gold found.
Source: Discovery Channel

As the snow melts, it will cause massive white water rapids, which will make driving conditions hazardous. This means a new layer of work has been added, and the team isn’t accustomed to dealing with it yet. The stakes have been raised dramatically as a result.

Dustin is Now Responsible for 8 Lives

Fred has also told Dustin in a teaser for the upcoming 2021 season that he will not be in control of a crew with him. According to the network, Fred’s unexpected change of plans means there is an opportunity to buy his drilling equipment and…

The crew gets ready to go into water.
Source: Discovery Channel

…for the first time, operate two crews. This means Dustin is now responsible for eight lives. While this increases his chances of discovering further riches, he can also increase his chances of being injured or worse. If all goes according to plan, the new team will be successful. If not…