OK, I’m just going to say what everyone is thinking: Porcupine Creek is quite obviously jinxed.
How else do you explain all the bad luck poor old Dakota Fred has had? Just like his predecessors, he’s had equipment failure. He’s had fights with his son. And now, it appears his home back in Minot, ND is floating away due to floods.
That’s right, folks, it’s time for Gold Rush!
Dakota Fred is seriously bumming me out. He’s having all kinds of problems at Porcupine Creek. He’s had delays getting his wash plant in, then he got in a fight with his son while perilously unloading his de-rocker from the semi, then he had problems with his loader, then there were problems with his little dozer (it was the starter). I don’t know how they’ve done it, but those wily folks over at the Discovery Channel have almost gotten me to feel sorry for ol’Fred and his bum leg a couple of times. (Seriously, something is up there: the soles of one of his work boots is SIGNIFICANTLY thicker than the other. He’s evening out a short leg for sure.)
But then we get back to the Original Losers of Gold Rush, the Hoffman crew.
When last we left our Clueless Crue, they were trying to make a go of it up Klondike Way. The need to make up for lost time and get mining. They’ve identified what they think is virgin ground and they get to clearing it.
Ah, ah, ah, not so quick. Of course there’s a couple of major obstacles to clearing the virgin ground and getting the (supposedly) gold bearing layer of earth. The first issue being that it’s on a steep incline and therefore, they can’t get any traction with their clearing equipment. But the bigger, and in my mind, probably predictable problem is PERMAFROST!! Yeah, since they are so far up north, the Hoffman crew now have to get through about 8 feet of frozen dirt. And, it’s hard as concrete. Of course.
By the way, can I just take a moment here to point out something that’s been bothering me since last season: these guys talk about their love of God and country and marvel at the wonder and beauty of Alaska. And then they are so, so incredibly destructive of said land. They bulldoze trees (often in places where there isn’t even gold to acquire), divert water sources, dig major holes all over the place, use tons of diesel fuel and water. It’s actually quite sad to watch.
OK, back to our program. Todd opines, in perhaps his most insightful comment ever, “Maybe we’re doing it wrong. I don’t have all the answers, OK?” No, actually, it’s not ok. Not when you are asking a bunch of dudes on the verge of bankruptcy to put their lives on hold and follow you into a gold-mining adventure. And no one’s asking for all the answers, just a couple of key ones, like, is this a potentially good spot??
But Todd has a great idea. There’s some other land adjacent to the former legitimate dredging operation and it’s flat. And if, at this point, like me, you’re thinking, “Bullshit. There’s no way that section RIGHT next to the ginormous mill wasn’t mined,” you would be correct. But facts never stand in the way of fruitless work by the Hoffman crew, so they will, of course try to clear that area and mine it. They spend 5 days and $5,000 clearing an area equivalent to a football field.
At this point, they are five weeks behind in the mining season. So, they start asking folks who might know a thing or two about this whole mining business. Actually, they’re happily trudging along, but the original claim owner who’s visiting his son stops by to make small talk. During the course of the conversation, he asks Todd which part of the claim their working on. And then, he confirms the worst – that nice, flat easy area was dredged 60 years ago. They now must go back to the slippery slope section and “rip, strip and hope,” as Todd puts it.
Well, the crew isn’t too interested on living on hope. Especially since clearing the permafrost on this sloped section is so difficult and dangerous. Ice melts unevenly, causing all kinds of sinkholes for the equipment to get stuck in. The crew is FINALLY insisting that there be some evidence that there’s gold. They aren’t too interested in Jack’s “hunches” anymore after last year’s fiasco. Of as one of them puts it, “We don’t want to be willy nilly gold miners again and we lost our ass.”
In his quest to avoid certain willy nilly status, Todd heads to town to talk to another successful gold miner (seriously, isn’t there a “Gold Mining for Dummies” or something? I feel like I could figure this stuff out quicker than the Hoffman’s).
And this is where we meet the very interesting, hilarious and totally-blasé-about-the-whole-thing, Dutchman Tony Beets. Oh, and he’s Dutch. And like a modern-day-Yoda (wait, is Star Wars set in the future? Maybe I should say “like a future-day-Yoda?”) anyway, DJ Dutchie Beets states something that should have been glaringly obvious to everyone from the onset – you have to drill test holes. “No drilling, no digging,” he logically explains.
Now alight with new-found knowledge, Todd heads back to the camp to sell the guys on the idea. Ornery ol’Jack isn’t so sure about all this new-fangled, high-falutin’ drilling rigamarole, preferring instead to rely on his gold intuition, which is probably just gas, but Pere Hoffman finally gives into the threatening mutiny and goes along with the idea. Which makes me wonder: If Jack had been vehemently against it, what then? Would Todd just ignore the good and reasonable advice he’d gotten? Would the Crue accept one man’s decision and just keep stumbling along?
Alas, we will never find out the answers to these questions. Todd hires a drilling expert, which will cost $4,000 for 12 holes throughout the claim. Todd proclaims, “We’re going to do it right this year.” To which I would add, “After doing it wrong about 100 other times.”
Anyway, the first six samples from the treeline on the slippery slope are a bust, but the other six holes from other sections show some slight traces of gold. This is, of course, enough to give the Hoffman crew hope.
Personally, if this drilling expert can find where the gold is, I’m not really sure why he’s not mining for it himself. Actually, after watching this bunch of idiots the last two seasons, I get it. That gold mining stuff seems hard.