This season on Discovery’s Friday reality hit “Gold Rush,” 19-year-old Alaskan Parker Schnabel has left behind the security of working at his beloved grandfather John’s Big Nugget gold mine to partner with mining legend Tony Beets to mine his land in the Klondike.
“Good ground makes a good miner,” he says to Zap2it. “With good ground, everybody’s fine. It’s when it gets lean, and you have to get mean, is when it makes a difference how you do things.”
With pressure from Beets to produce, Schnabel has had to learn to stand on his own two feet.
“It was tough being away from my family and my grandpa,” says Schnabel. “We were two hours out of town; we had really bad Internet, so Skype and stuff is unreliable. I do my best to keep in touch, but with that and the fact we were working 12, 15 hours a day, I really didn’t keep in touch very well.
“My grandpa can’t hear well. You’ve never been around him, but in person you’re all right, because you can see if he can hear you, but it’s nearly impossible to have a [phone] conversation with him.”
Along with time and effort, Schnabel has also sunk in the proceeds from his grandfather’s gift of a jar of gold and a chunk of his college fund. He’s in charge of the operation, which means being the boss of men who are, in some cases, decades older than him.
On top of all these pressures, he’s having to work around a largely British film crew, but that means they’re more used to just documenting instead of trying to manipulate what’s going on.
“That’s one thing I really appreciate,” says Schnabel. “They come out, and we’re able to work with them and be able to keep our mining operation as efficient as possible, with them running all over the place.
“They don’t know what is going on. They call every piece of equipment a dumper, and I don’t know what a dumper is. But it’s not easy. It’s nerve-racking, and it’s stressful, because there’s a bunch of people who know nothing about equipment running around in front of you.”