History’s Yukon Gold digs into Season 5

Somehow I totally missed covering Season 4 of Yukon Gold. No matter, the guys and gals who seek out the shiny precious metal in the most inhospitable of places—the Yukon—have stuck with it and return on Wednesday with Season 5 of the History program.

“Strike While the Iron is Hot” kicks off the new season at 10 p.m. ET/PT with a quick recap of what’s happened since we last visited the hardscrabble territory. And while folks like Big Al McGregor and Nika Guilbault and Chris St. Jean are back for this bunch of storylines, Karl Knutson, Bernie Kreft and Ken Foy and Guillaume Brodeur are no longer a part of Yukon Gold. No matter, there are more than enough interesting people sluicing. And with gold at a five-year high—$1,700 an ounce—there’s urgency to find the stuff and fast before the 16-week season ends.

Big Al has set himself a lofty goal, aiming to dig up 1,000 ounces (over $1.7 million). But Al’s infectious laugh and positive attitude hides his two-year struggle, first with the death of his wife, Colleen, and then cancer that caused him to lose feeling in his hands and legs. The result? He’s walking with the aid of canes and soldiering on in Colleen’s memory. You can’t help but hope he’ll get those ounces he’s dreaming of.

Meanwhile, young Whitehorse prospectors Ed and Riley are getting into the big game for the first time. Their first task? Transporting their $250,000 sluice plant through the mountains to their claim on Rabbit Creek. A rookie mistake shuts down their convoy for a bit, cutting into precious work hours but providing viewers with awesome, sweeping camera shots of the rugged Yukon terrain.

They may come from different backgrounds and have different levels of success mining, but everyone featured on Yukon Gold agrees on one thing: they deeply love where they are. The allure of living in the wilderness, eking out a living with the bare minimum and removed from the issues a big city presents is an intoxicating cocktail they simply can’t pass up. And having a little bit of gold is just gravy.

Yukon Gold airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.