Special Forces Vet Heads to the Yukon to Give ‘Gold Rush’ Another Shot

Fred Lewis Gold Rush
Fred Lewis takes an all-veteran team to the Yukon on season 12 of "Gold Rush." (Discovery)

On the 2020-2021 season of the Discovery Channel reality series “Gold Rush,” former special forces medic Fred Lewis aimed to put together a team of veterans who could seek their fortunes mining for gold in rural Oregon.

Because of pandemic protocols, Lewis and his crew weren’t able to cross the border to mine the Canadian Yukon, so they set up here in the States in hopes of striking it rich. Things didn’t turn out so well.

Fred Lewis Paul Philips Gold Rush
Fred Lewis and Paul Philips discuss their progress at the wash plant on season 12 of "Gold Rush." (Discovery)

Lewis is giving things another shot, this time in the Yukon now that vaccinations have made it easier for everyone to travel. The 12th season of “Gold Rush” premieres Friday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery and will stream on discovery+.

Related: These Veterans Are Mining Gold for a New Start During the Pandemic

The show presents this trip as Lewis’ last shot in the mining game. He shows up in the Yukon and needs some help finding fresh mining territory for his all-veteran crew. His team reaches out to “Gold Rush” veteran Parker Schnabel for help.


As the new season approaches, we asked Lewis via email what he’d learned from his experience in Oregon. “Two big things,” he replied. “First, not to trust people blindly. And two, to test the ground and get tangible evidence before signing on anything. You also need to have reliable equipment. And make sure you aren't slacking. The best way to do it is by having a schedule for everyone to follow. Last season, we did 10 hours, and this year we're planning to do 24 hours of mining. So we're really going to put more time on the ground and be a lot more efficient.”

Fred Lewis Gold Rush
Fred Lewis operates an excavator on "Gold Rush." You thought they were still using pans and pickaxes? (Discovery)

Lessons learned, he also told us why he thinks things will be different this time, writing: “I expect the Yukon to be a lot more difficult and be a constant challenge. Resources are tough; the mining is tough. But I expect the gold to be more consistent than it was in Oregon. I would also say that I’m also 100% more focused. I’m hungry for victory, and I have a lot to prove to everyone. People saw us fail last season. This is our opportunity to shine so we’re going to need to put everything into it if we’re going to succeed. It’s all on the line this year. It’s about as real as it gets.”

The idea that there’s more gold in the Yukon than in Oregon makes a lot of sense. Maybe Lewis’ crew was doomed before it started in season 11. Discovery slowly will reveal the answers over the next few months, so stay tuned if you’re hoping that gold mining is the answer to all your career needs.

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