'Gold Rush: White Water' Miner Kayla Johanson Talks Being Named Crew Boss — "It Was a Bit Rocky" (EXCLUSIVE)

Jennifer Tisdale - Author
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Dec. 9 2021, Updated 2:36 p.m. ET

Looks like the team of Gold Rush: White Water just got a bit bigger. But wait! There's a plot twist. The new dredger on the block is a woman miner named Kayla Johanson, but she's not looking to prove herself to any of the guys.

"I've been mining for a while so I don't really think I have to prove anything to myself because I know what I can do," Kayla exclusively told Distractify about working in the male-dominated industry.

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Gold Rush's Dustin Hurt eventually named Kayla crew boss, but did the "boys club" welcome her with open arms?

Kayla told us that a few of her team members were not too happy after she stepped into the leadership role. "A lot of guys just aren't used to working under a woman, especially in this kind of a job," she said, adding, "But I think at the end, they warmed up pretty good — but in the beginning, it was a bit rocky."

So, just who is the dredger who impressed Dustin and the rest of the crew?

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Who is Kayla Johanson on 'Gold Rush: White Water'?

According to Kayla's Instagram bio, she's a "Gold Diggin' B---h." Wow, we love her already.

Mining is part of Kayla's ancestry as her grandfather panned for gold in Arizona. She eventually decided to follow in her family's footsteps and took her talents to Southcentral Alaska, where for the past two years, she has been running her own dredge.

Kayla told Distractify that she is excited to learn some new skills while mining with Dustin's crew.

"I've never done any cable work or worked with the winches ... or climbing and rappelling. That was all new to me," she said. "That was pretty rewarding to learn all of that. And it's all useful skills that I can use in my own mining experiences further down the road."

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Kayla talks the most nerve-wracking part of the job.

Aside from participating in a labor-intensive job, these gold miners are also tasked with battling Mother Nature. From rock slides to earthquakes and frigid temperatures, the Gold Rush crew must continue to push on for the sake of catching a big score.

So, is the team ever fearful for their lives while on the job?

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According to Kayla, "it's definitely in the back of your mind" but she tries "not to live in fear." She added, "I feel like you hold yourself back if you're too scared of things."

While she noted that the team encountered multiple rock slides throughout the season, for her, the most nerve-wracking part of the job was all of the people and cameras on location.

"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," Kayla revealed.

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Aside from mining for gold, Kayla crafts her own jewelry.

Overall, Kayla's passions lie with mining, not just for gold but for quartz crystals and different mineral specimens too.

But when it's winter in Alaska, Kayla enjoys crafting her own jewelry, which she sells on her Etsy page called The Peeking Doe. However, mining is the "number one thing" that she likes to do and told us that she has no plans to retire in the near future.

"I'm just going to keep going until my body broke down and tells me it can't do it anymore," Kayla concluded.

Gold Rush: White Water airs Fridays at 9 p.m. EST on Discovery.

Reporting by: Gabrielle Bernardini

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