‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Star Kayla Johanson Reflects on How She Started Mining

by Amy Myers
(Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Although Kayla Johanson is new to Gold Rush: White Water, she’s an experienced miner with several years under her belt already.

Like her good friend and boss, Dustin Hurt, Johanson developed her passion for her career from her family. Before joining the show, Johanson was the head of her own dredging company. She was a one-woman operation, relying only on herself to do all of the work that takes an entire team on Gold Rush: White Water.

“I’ve always been into rocks and finding things ever since I was a little kid, but when I was a teenager, I think I was about 17 almost 18 years old, I was living in California,” Johanson told Hollywood Soapbox. “And my dad used to take me camping up in the San Gabriel Mountains, and I used to see guys up there panning and dredging for gold. And it sparked more of an interest in it, so I started playing around with panning a little bit.”

Then Johanson worked alongside her grandfather, who taught her some of the most important lessons about gold dredging.

“And then I found out that my grandfather who lived in Arizona would do panning on the side for a little extra cash here and there, so I went and stayed with him to visit,” the Gold Rush: White Water star continued. “And he taught me about panning and reading creeks and things like that. It just stuck from there on, and it’s been an obsession ever since.”

Thanks to her grandfather’s knowledge and her perserverance, Johanson has quickly become the leader of her own team on Gold Rush: White Water.

‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Star Has Become a Role Model

When Johanson started on the show, she faced a bit of pushback from other members of the crews. As the only woman on the site, the Gold Rush: White Water star found that she had to prove she could dredge just asa well as anyone else. And soon enough, her team recognized what a powerhouse she was in the water.

Now, female fans of the show look up to Johanson for demonstrating that gold dredging isn’t a boys’ club anymore. In response to the positive feedback from women who watch the show, the Gold Rush: White Water star expressed the importance of chasing after one’s passion, no matter the stigmas that surround it.

“I think it’s a good thing for young women to see that just because a profession or a hobby is viewed as being male-dominant doesn’t mean that a woman can’t do it as well,” Johanson explained. “It’s all about what you’re interested in and what you’re passionate about, and if you’re passionate about something that is usually something guys do, then go for it. I don’t think gender should really matter if it’s something that you love to do.”