In the new season launching Friday (Oct. 25), Discovery’s “Gold Rush” is following the sagas of now-veteran gold miner Todd Hoffman and his crew in Guyana, South America; and teen-age Parker Schnabel, who’s teamed up with the legendary Tony Beets to mine in Canada’s Klondike region.
Speaking to Zap2it in mid-October, Hoffman is now back from the jungle and home in Oregon.
“I’m back for a while,” he says. “I try to spend as much time as I can with the kids and re-engage my family after being away for so long.”
Airing after a new episode of the behind-the-scenes show, “Gold Rush: The Dirt,” the two-hour season premiere is called “Queen of Diamonds,” and Hoffman says, “Queen of Diamonds is the name of a property in Guyana, OK?”
Asked if the name hints at the presence of more than gold, Hoffman says, “Well, I can’t really say too much, but you probably wouldn’t name it that if there weren’t diamonds, right?”
Hoffman says viewers are going to have a wild ride.
“It’s unbelievable. It was the most intense, probably the hardest adventure that me and my guys have ever been on. We saw things that were literally hard to describe, very dangerous. A few times, I came close to dying. You’ll see.”
Apparently one of these perilous moments didn’t even wind up on camera.
“This won’t be in the show,” Hoffman says, “so I can talk to you about it. I had a full-on car chase, with two guys who are trying to rob me. I came out of the bank with a stack of cash, a shopping bag full of case. I was in the car with my driver, in the back seat, and two guys caught me right as I came out of the bank; a friend had notified them. We had a full-on car chase like you see in the movies.
“The police caught these guys, and they had a loaded gun right on their lap. They weren’t so close that they could jump out and shoot us, but they were right on our tail. I was getting ready to throw all the cash out the window.”
When it’s suggested that carrying a shopping bag full of cash might not have been the best idea, Hoffman explains that you can’t actually use a credit card to pay for things in Guyana, and the exchange rate makes running on a cash basis challenging.
“It’s 200 of their dollars to one of ours,” he says, “so you can just imagine the stack of cash that you have to carry around to do business. I had to pay for something, and I had to get that cash.”
In this instance, Hoffman had good reason for ditching the camera crew.
“You don’t want cameras around,” he says, “when you’re going to go do stuff like that. You just draw attention to yourself. When you’re one of the few white people in the area, you’re already sticking out like a sore thumb. It was pretty scary.
“Very dangerous; very exciting; very Wild West. If you ever want to go on a Third World adventure, that’s the country to do it in.”
While the dangers he describes might not encourage people to embark on that adventure, Hoffman says, “You might [want to] after you watch the show and see waterfalls that look like they came out of heaven themselves.
“Unbelievable, man. It’s nature the way it was like at the beginning; it’s ‘Land of the Lost,’ a little bit. It was just incredible.”