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Gold Rush: White Water exclusive: Kayla Sheets interview, plus she completes her first dive [Video]

Kayla Sheets the moment she first goes into the water. Pic credit: Discovery.
Kayla Sheets the moment she first goes into the water. Pic credit: Discovery.

On the next Gold Rush: White water, Dakota Fred may be on to a nice treasure trove of gold, but his step-daughter Kayla Sheets is now set up and ready to make her first dive.

Kayla’s step-brother Dustin Hurt has made amazing efforts to uncover deep pools where gold nuggets have been found, and huge boulders removed even revealed some promising new areas to explore, but you have to know how to dive!

Kayla completes her first-ever dive

Paul Richardson and stepdad Fred Hurt are up above as Kayla suited up and descended into the frigid water. “Ohh, it’s cold,” she said as she entered the roiling waters of the creek.

Watching with intent, Paul said: “This is her first dive, she’s never dove before. It’s gonna be a big step up for her.”

Observing her progress, Fred said that Kayla could physically do it, but he was less certain about her mental toughness to get the job done.

There’s a level of claustrophobia that these divers deal with under the waterfalls and in these tighter necks of the creek with boulders all around them ready to fall on them in an instant.

It’s dark, silt-filled water that is icy cold, and moving fast. In the clip, Kayla noted how uncomfortable she was initially. She dives down 14 feet to remove the rocks and boulders as she followed the bedrock to find deep pools, much like how Dustin did on his dive site.

Over three hours, Kayla dug three feet down, sending gravel and sediment up to the sluicer.

Exclusive interview with Kayla Sheets

Monsters & Critics: That looks really cold and uncomfortable when you go in the water in the clip. Fred was filmed saying he thinks that you can physically handle it, but he doesn’t think that mentally you can handle it. That’s before you went in the water.

Kayla Sheets: That’s probably true. Wow.

M&C: But to your credit, you made it for three hours. First of all, how cold is that water and how do you stay warm?

Kayla Sheets: Oh, my goodness. I think it’s like 30 degrees, anywhere give or take on the day. It’s cold. Underneath the dive suit, I wore a five-millimeter wet-suit. I chose the five because I just get too hot easily. And that was adequate enough with the hot water system that came in the dive suit.

M&C: You were called in because somebody didn’t show up. Can you give us some backstory on how you made this dive and why?

Kayla Sheets: Well, so yes, originally the plan was, I was going to head up there… My husband is a miner as well. He has been for the whole show, and I just traveled with him last year, and I was just going to work behind the scenes with Fred doing his paperwork.

One gentleman miner didn’t show that Fred had lined up to come, and I was there and able to work and willing to work.

So Fred threw me in, in classic Fred fashion and it was a struggle. There’s so much to being a female out there, there’s so much I had to prove to everybody.

This dive that I did just signified all the struggles and everything I had went through, and it was my big whole middle finger to everybody who had stood in my way and the whole principle of being a female. It was monumental because I felt in my eyes.

It really made me a miner at that point.

M&C: So you met Paul Richardson, and you fell in love, and you guys got married last year?

Kayla Sheets:  Yes, we did. Yes.

M&C: And you were an adult when your mother married Fred. What was your first impression of Fred when you met him?

Kayla Sheets: Oh, my goodness. So they actually got married in 2016, but I met him back in 2013. He became a part of our lives then.

And up until then, he was a cool person until the moment he married my mom, and actually, I spent a year struggling with, not so much him personally, but the fact that I have a new stepdad.

So that was difficult. But Fred is the most sincere, genuine, caring person I’ve ever met, truly. And I wish the show kind of depicted that a little more because he would give the shirt off his back to anybody and he loves us kids, his step kids so much and has been there for us so much. That’s all you could ask for.

For me now, I just view him as a bonus dad. My real father, he passed away in 2014, and now I have this awesome bonus dad. So it’s great.

M&C: This isn’t like a normal dive. It’s dark. There’s a lot of silt. You’re doing a job. You’ve got a very powerful suction dredge in your hand, you’re trying to manage. Talk about that. What does it feel like? Do you get claustrophobic? Talk about that first impression down there.

Kayla Sheets: I should talk about putting the suit on first and then my sprint down there, I guess because I don’t know if that would be relevant, but after work, I didn’t tell the film crew or anybody, my plans.

I was on board with Fred and Paul, and [that] I would take the dive mask back to upper camp, and in our tent, I would put the mask on and that’s how I would get a little more comfortable with having the mask on… because a lot of people have said that’s the thing that makes people freak out the most is feeling like you can’t breathe or [that] you’re claustrophobic. So I would practice that and… wow.

That morning that I decided to dive, putting on the suit was a whole other thing because I had never put on… So you have your wet-suit underneath, and then you put your dive suit on and that’s what pumps all the hot water, and it’s very claustrophobic feeling.

I don’t know how to say it, but it feels like someone placed Saran wrap around you, and you just can’t move. You can’t raise your arms above your head, and you’re just feeling very claustrophobic. So to get to that point was a struggle, but getting in the water, the thing that scared me the most was actually the weight belt.

We have a 40-pound weight belt that we put on because if you don’t, you just float. And for me, 40 pounds is easy to handle.

But when you’re dealing with the dive suit and the wet-suit and the mask and everything else, it freaked me out quite a bit because you’re feeling trapped. It was the dive belt was the thing that put me over the edge, funny enough, because most people it’s the mask.

So climbing in was difficult. It’s rocky, and you’re in these clunky boots. You could barely walk normally because you have all these layers on. And getting in the water was a whole ordeal in itself. And then finally getting underwater for the first time and breathing. It takes some getting used to. It was difficult for me to regulate my breathing.

My first dive under the water,  there was no visibility at all. It was dark. You have things flying at you, leaves and dirt, and whatever. That freaks me out a lot too because all you imagine and picture is a maybe a [horror show scene] head or something, a body floating near you because it’s so creepy and eerie down there.

Then the com system is hard to hear because you’re down there, your ears are plugged up because water is leaking in and you could barely hear up top, and you’re kind of in your own little world. It’s quiet, and all you hear is the water and yeah. It’s a unique experience.

M&C: You have this exciting run, you were a miner, you were diving, you guys were on the hunt for gold. I assume you found gold. Then you go back and work in a small town.  How does that work? Do you want to keep mining? Do you want to do a career change? What does the future hold for you, Kayla?

Kayla Sheets: One thing I wanted to throw in before we moved on to the next question is my relationship with Fred up until my dive was very rocky because work Fred and stepdad Fred are two different people. And I found it very difficult to work with Fred because he’s old school and I’m this know-it-all 30-year-old.

But Fred was absolutely amazing when I had my first dive. He took control of the com system and was speaking to me. He was calming me down.

He was giving me tasks to help keep me on track and just be comfortable under there. And for me, that was just such a pivotal moment for me because it changed both of us.

We had an understanding and this respect going on. That really changed our relationship at that moment. And it’s too bad, it was at the end of the season.

As for being a miner, absolutely. Absolutely. It was such a fun experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be a part of that. And I love trying new things. And for me, I’ve never been in that kind of element ever before.

I had worked office jobs up until that point. Never anything outdoors, never living in a tent for five months, anything like that. But I had so much fun and grew personally, grew with my family, grew with my husband. So it was a fun moment and it’s definitely something I’d like to learn more about in the future and grow into.

Gold Rush: White Water exclusive preview:

Watch as Paul guides Kayla into the waters as Fred looks on, both men are concerned, but she does an amazing job her first time out:

Gold Rush: White Water airs on Fridays at 10 pm on Discovery Channel.

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