Watching a series like Jade Fever—returning Tuesday to Discovery—you can’t help but ask one question: why? Why do folks like Claudia and Robin Bunce trek 120 kilometres from their home in Jade City, B.C., to hunt for jade every summer?
The ride to their camp—named Wolverine—is a mud, water and rock-filled trail heavy diggers and trucks must traverse at a snail’s pace. We’re talking a days-long expedition. Equipment breaks down, biting bugs are a constant, and mud and cold envelop all. Again, why do they do it? One word: jade. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s nephrite jade is in the area and countries like China are willing to pay big for it.
Back for Season 2 on Bell Media’s specialty network, the Bunce’s and their crew—including hot-headed son Josh—are constantly on the hunt for what they call “the million-dollar” rock; the chunk of jade that will be a windfall for the company. Unlike gold, which must be mined, jade is found near the surface, deposited by glaciers millions of years ago. Still, finding the stuff—especially the deep, green gem prized most—is a crapshoot. Unlike the rookie season debut that introduced everyone and got digging right away, Tuesday’s back-to-back instalments hop into the cabs alongside everyone and documents the slow, methodical trip to Wolverine. It takes just one kilometre into the ride for warning beeps to halt the conga line, and just a little bit more before an overheated engine stops everything.
Over in China, meanwhile, company CEO Alan Qiao meets with investors, putting the final signatures on a $500,000 budget. Those investors lost money last year and threaten to pull out if the Bunces don’t produce more jade.
Episode 2 is plagued by a faulty rock truck, but some quick-thinking—and some luck—things eventually take a turn for the better. A nail-biting crossing of the Turnagain River and some expletive-filled track bolt adjustments and the squad is, as Claudia says, “cooking with corn flakes.” Well, most of them, anyway.
A quick teaser hints at the drama to come: rolled over vehicles, injured folks being flown out via helicopter, staff stranded in the bush and endless boulders with nothing inside. Yup, it’s going to be a long season. Luckily, the payoff is worth it.
Jade Fever airs Tuesdays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET on Discovery.