On last night’s episode of “Alaska Gold Diggers,” SaraJane and her four daughters are looking forward to reopening their late grandfather’s Alaska gold mines in Nome and Fairbanks. These California girls have never attempted anything like this, but they pooled their money and with help from a few grizzled miners, they are hoping to learn enough to secure their legacy and a comfortable future. But will the Alaskan weather be too much for them to handle?
Last week, viewers saw the Newport Beach women arrive at the mine in Nome, only to find the accommodations less than first class; more like no class. As SaraJane, Krista, Korre, Kamme and Tori braved the elements, the women saw the arrival of the miners they hired to help them and teach them what it takes to be an Alaskan gold miner.
As they found the first fruits of their labors by dredging in the icy waters of Gold Run River, they were hooked. After the initial week, they have already spent $6,000 in operating costs and only found $1,100 in gold. John, the dredger crew chief is a taskmaster and will not allow slackers in his crew; no matter how pampered they have been in the past.
On the second day, it was snowing from an arctic blast of cold, but they must soldier on or risk losing it all. If they don’t cover their operating costs each day, they will have to abandon the operation. Today they will learn a different kind of mining called high banking. The high banker is a contraption with a hopper on top where a pump hose will suck the sediment from the a hole in the ground into the hopper, where jets of water will wash it into the sluice below. Buddy, the white-bearded miner of the crew is a congenial man whom the women have developed a great affection for. Digging the hole in frozen ground was no easy task as Mark showed Tori how to use a pickaxe.
The frozen dredger was a victim of the weather and unusable for now. It will take eleven hours to thaw it out as equipment and miners were quickly getting covered in the blowing snow. Finally, after thawing the frozen hose, the high banker is working just fine. But the women are cold and need to take a break to warm up. While they are in the cabin, the guys come together to discuss their work ethic. They agreed to work side-by-side, but half of the crew will only net half of the money. They like the girls, but need them to pull their weight. Later, that evening around a fire, John gave his entire team a pep talk and told the girls what was expected of them. When John told them what the gold count was, SJ was annoyed at herself for leaving early and not being present during the tally. When SJ told her girls this, it was overheard by the miners creating an uncomfortable air of distrust.
The next day, the storm subsided and Buddy and Krista got busy. Tori and Igor were busy with the now thawed out dredger, but Igor is not anxious to work with people who do not trust him. Downstream, Mark is cranky and although the women are great to look at, he is tired of hearing them talk.
When they spotted gold in the sluice, it was time to celebrate and everyone was happy. Later, Buddy, who hates to sit idly, took his metal detector to search on his own and hopefully surprise the women. When he found two good-sized pickers, he showed them to Korre, who now has a newfound trust in the crew.
The next day, an overnight rainstorm from the Bering Sea threw another curve ball. The river rose, and the $20,000 dredge was not properly tied up and if that was lost, the operation would be a bust. Now John has to rescue the dredge before it and he are washed down the river. They set up ropes to prevent a disaster, but this is an unpredictable river. As John secured the dredge, Mark who was down river, attempted to cross back over, but the river and currents had strengthened in that time and as he was crossing. As the river started to take Mark away, Krista ran through the water and secured the rope for him to grab and saved him as hypothermia quickly was setting in. That evening, the group came together for a celebratory meal and a few drinks and found that they were now more like family than just workers.
After two weeks, they found a total of 6.3 ounces worth $11,025, but with expenses of $16,251, they are still in the red for $5,226. Now they will continue mining on future episodes of “Alaska Gold Diggers.”
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