It seems as though the miscommunication between Dustin and Kayla may not have been the reason why she has left Gold Rush: White Water.
The good news that Gold Rush: White Water was finally returning to air in April 2023 was quickly interrupted by the much sadder news that fan-favorite diver, Kayla Johanson, had decided to part ways with the show.
Kayla officially broke this sad news via her social media pages on June 8, 2023.
She stated, “Working on the show was tying [her] down too much and taking too much away from [her] own personal mining goals and business goals” and that “[She] can't keep following someone else around with way less than satisfactory results each year, while dealing with unnecessary amounts of drama.”
The story behind the story
And while many of the show’s longtime fans almost immediately assumed that this ‘unnecessary drama’ was a reference to Kayla’s persistent disagreements with Dustin – it turns out that this may not be the case at all.
In actuality, it seems like Kayla might have had more behind-the-scenes drama with the production crew, than she had with Dustin on screen.
And sadly, Kayla’s departure seems to be just another case of a reality television show over-producing its cast.
Kayla’s run on Gold Rush: White Water
But before we can dive into (pun intended) why Kayla left the show, let us take a look back at all of her invaluable contributions.
When Kayla first joined Dustin’s Gold Rush: White Water crew, they were not only dealing with record-breaking levels of snowfall, but also with the fact that it was Dustin’s first season managing the entire operation in McKinley Creek without his father.
And while the old-timers initially had their doubts that Kayla would be able to deal with the unrelenting Alaskan wilderness, she proved herself pretty quickly by zip-lining across the creek at House Rock to secure the last piece of the crew’s sky-line.
All in all, Kayla’s entire run on Gold Rush: White Water can be summarized as follows:
|Initial air dates
|18 (Kayla made her debut in the second episode)
|November 5, 2021, to March 18, 2022
|November 8, 2022, to June 9, 2023
The behind-the-scenes drama
Kayla has been quite open and direct about the fact that she is no longer affiliated with Gold Rush: White Water and does not have any new information about the show to share.
However, she did share a little bit about her frustrations on the set in a fan-led Facebook group.
Kayla responded to a fan’s question about the dives on the show, saying “Because it's a tv show and we could only work so late in the day having to follow production schedules… I can't tell you how many times I got complaints towards the end of season 5 for working late and doing long dives.”
This paints quite a clear picture of the constant back-and-forth that must have taken place in the last few years, between the crew (which was focused on finding as much gold as possible) and the production team (which was focused on keeping the show on a tight schedule).
To add fuel to the fire, Kayla also recently posted about some of the facts that the Gold Rush: White Water’s production got wrong about her.
Kayla is still a gold miner at heart
Kayla is no longer working as part of Dustin’s McKinley Creek crew, but she has been putting her more-than a decade’s worth of dredge diving-experience to good use.
She now mines for various kinds of minerals and gold nuggets in the freezing Alaskan wilderness.
And in case you did not know, you can actually share in Kayla’s mining adventures, as she has her very own Etsy shop from which she sells some of the jewelry that she crafts from her most unique finds.
Kayla’s plans for the future
Although many avid Gold Rush: White Water fans were sad to hear that Kayla will not be returning to the show, even if it is renewed for another season, season six will likely not be the last that we see of Kayla’s Alaskan gold-mining adventures.
In fact, she has announced plans to start her own YouTube channel. Kayla initially said that she plans to have this channel up-and-running by the end of 2023, but the process seems to be taking a bit longer than expected.
Either way, with the outpouring of support that Kayla has received from the Gold Rush community thus far, we cannot wait to see what she and her jewelry business will accomplish when she is established as a full-fledged social media-star.