At 25-years-old, Parker Schnabel is the youngest cast member of the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush. The Alaskan native joined the show after his grandfather stepped down from his role as a regular cast member in Season 2 and continued a guest star role afterward. Before the cameras and fame, Parker was an ordinary young man working in the mines with a strong work ethic. Now in Season 10 of Gold Rush, Parker is still mining millions, but a lot has changed, especially in his personal life. Fans of the show have been wondering what’s going on with Parker and his relationship with Ashley Youle.
Ashley and Parker Met In Australia
Ashley was living in the Yukon, Canada region while filming Gold Rush, but she and Parker first met in Australia in 2016, while he was visiting during downtime from work. Parker told Maxim, “Normally I come home and spend a week hunting with my dad in November, and then I usually travel – I’ve been to Australia twice.”
After meeting in Australia, the two of them hit it off as Ashley showed Parker around. When it was time for Parker to head back to the U.S., he invited Ashley to come to visit.
Ashley Jumped In And Was A Perfect Fit
When Ashley began appearing in Gold Rush in Season 8, it seemed as though she and Parker were the perfect fit. Her friendly and uplifting personality balanced out the tension of the job and helped Parker remain level-headed at the mining camp.
Parker told the Discovery Channel in an interview, “Ashley just rolls with the punches and helps out where she’s needed. If we need her to drive trucks she’ll drive trucks. She ended up cleaning gold a lot of the summer or helping do fuel things or whatever we needed her around the place.”
Others Wondered If Ashley Was Working Illegally
Since she was Australian and only visiting Canada for leisure, Ashley technically wasn’t allowed to work or earn money in Yukon without first receiving a work visa, which she didn’t have.
Once appearing on Gold Rush, it was clear to other mining crews in Yukon that Ashley was doing more than just visiting. It rubbed some people the wrong way since she wasn’t playing by the rules that they all had to abide by in the competitive business.
Parker Enjoyed Ashley’s Company, Saying “She’s Great For Me”
Having your romantic partner around the job site might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for Parker and Ashley, it worked out perfectly. If Parker fell into one of the grumpy moods that he’s notorious for, Ashley’s presence would lift his spirits and get him back on track.
Parker said, “Yes, Ashley was a huge help. I don’t think she gets quite enough credit for how well the summer went. She is great to be around, she is great for me and she is just a really cool chick.” Parker recognized how much happier he was when Ashley was around, but he didn’t let their relationship distract him from his commitment to gold mining.
He Admitted He Didn’t Make Ashley A Priority
Parker enjoyed having Ashley around and recognized how rare it was to find a woman who would join him out on a mining camp in Yukon. However, his tunnel vision for mining gold didn’t leave enough time or attention for his relationship with the Aussie.
The young miner told The Discovery Channel, “I just never really made the relationship a priority, didn’t make her a priority, and she deserves a lot better than that.”
Moving On With A Broken Heart
By the end of Season 8, Parker and Ashley’s relationship was falling apart. Parker said, “As successful as our season was, there was, for me personally, one pretty big failure. Ashley and I broke up.” As hard as it was for Parker to admit that he caused the split, he knew there was no point to beat around the bush at this point.
He called their break-up “a shame” and said, “At the end of the day, I do think she is doing what’s best for her and that’s the hardest part of it.”
Officially Broken Up, Ashley Goes Back to Australia
After the couple was officially broken up, Ashley returned to her home country of Australia. Some fans of Gold Rush were disappointed to hear the news that Ashley and her bubbly personality would be leaving.
Since returning home, Ashley has picked up where she left off, working as a veterinary nurse in Melbourne, Australia. Her life down under is far different from the mining lifestyle. It appears that she’s still single, so there might be hope for the couple to reunite at some point.
A Photo On Instagram Led To Rumors That Parker Moved On
While Parker was clearly in poor spirits about his split with Ashley, rumors began to spread that the miner had already moved on when he posted a photo of himself sitting on a bench with a brunette.
As it turned out, the female friend, Sheena Cowell, works in TV production and the relationship is a friendship and working relationship only. (She’s also taken.) Maybe he’ll meet another lady while traveling in his downtime next year.
Parker Got His Start in Gold Mining At Age 16
Gold mining is the Schnabel family business that Parker grew up around his entire life. His grandfather, John Schnabel, owned an Alaskan gold mining business called Big Nugget Mine. Although Parker had a college fund saved up, at 16 years old, he decided that he wanted to become a miner instead.
Parker invested his college funds into the mining business and has now been working in the industry for nine years at the age of 25.
He Once Found One Nugget Worth $400-$500
In his mid-twenties, Parker has already mined over $13 million in gold. That’s quite an accomplishment! In Season 4, Parker and his crew mined a season total of 1,029 ounces, a haul of $1.4 million. That surpassed Todd Hoffman’s single-season record (803 oz) and was more than he had hauled in four seasons put together.
During a Facebook Live Q&A, when asked what the most expensive gold nugget Parker has found was worth he replied, “Maybe a quarter ounce? $400-$500.”
His Net Worth Now Is About $8 Million
With a combination of hard work and natural skill, Parker has already had a lucrative career in gold mining. Coupled with his salary for the reality TV series on the Discovery Channel, he’s made a good living for himself at a young age.
Even when he’s mining in other regions, Parker is the head of his family’s Big Nugget Mine in Porcupine Creek, Alaska. Parker’s net worth is currently estimated at $8 million.
He Doesn’t Always Get Along With The Camera Crew
The miners on Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush spend a lot of time with a production crew as the cameras roll. Each season takes about five months of filming and that can be a strain on both the miners and the film crew.
Of all the miners featured on the show, supposedly, Parker is the most difficult to work with, especially in his younger years. Reportedly, one member of the crew mentioned that Parker “has the least regard for the camera crew.”
He Made a Wager With Hoffman
Before Todd Hoffman left Gold Rush after Season 8, Parker made a surprising bet with him. He laid 100 ounces of gold on the line, betting Hoffman that his crew would come up with more gold than Hoffman’s that summer.
Parker went so far as to estimate that his crew would haul 5,000 ounces of gold in one summer. It goes to show how confident Parker is in his ability and mining crew.
His Grandfather Bought The Porcupine Creek Claim in 1984
Parker’s grandfather inspired him to get into the gold mining business. John Schnabel initially bought a claim in Porcupine Creek, Alaska, in 1984 as a place to take his children in the summer and leisurely mine gold. One he realized the potential in the land, he started his business, Big Nugget Mine.
Parker spent his summers on his grandfather’s land and learned the family business. Today, Porcupine Creek is recognized as one of the best places for gold mining in the world.
His Grandfather Gave The Business To Parker
Shown in the second season of Gold Rush, Parker’s grandfather John handed the business down to him. It was a big decision and Porcupine Creek became the focus of Season 2. John and Parker had a special relationship and John saw that Big Nugget Mine would be in good hands with his grandson.
John was apart of Gold Rush through Season 5. Sadly, at the end of Season 6, John passed away on March 18, 2016. He was 96 years old.
John’s Last Words to His Grandson
John had lived an incredible life. When his health took a turn, he knew that his days were numbered. Parker made sure to be by his grandfather’s side in his final days. Before he passed, John told Parker, “Parker, I wish you the best of everything.”
He continued, “I don’t particularly wish you to have billions of dollars… but I do want you to have a wondering feeling for someone who becomes a part of your life. That’s all that’s important. Good luck.”
Gene Cheeseman Unexpectedly Leaves Parker’s Crew
Parker no longer had his grandfather’s wisdom to help guide him in the gold mining business and he soon had to deal with other changes to his crew, too. His right-hand man, Gene Cheeseman, unexpectedly left the crew for another opportunity. Gene was another early mentor for Parker.
Viewers were surprised by the sudden change, and some even wondered if Gene had died. Parker said that he left amicably enough. In an interview with Facebook Live, Parker said, “Gene and I are fine, I think. From my point of view, we are– you’d have to ask him on that. I think we’ve both moved on, and we’re both doing fine from it.”
Parker is Grateful For Gene’s Guidance
Parker was visibly disappointed that Gene had chosen to move on from his crew, but he had nothing but gratitude for the miner. “I learned a hell of a lot from Gene, and I’ll always owe him for that.” Parker said in the Q&A with Facebook.
“Gene was a very good guy and a very good teacher. My grandpa taught me lots, but Gene taught me how to really move dirt, and since he left, we’ve been expanding on that. But he definitely planted the seed there.”
He Trusted Rick Ness To Take On More Leadership
After Gene left, Parker felt the void in his crew. Luckily, Rick Ness stepped up. Rick had been working on the crew for years and knew that Parker needed some extra help after Gene left. Parker said of Rick, “He’s a great guy, and he wanted more responsibility, and I decided why not trust somebody I’ve worked with for several years– it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
He said that now they’re “combining a lot of different ideas that people have to move dirt and sluice different ground. Once we got that established, we saved and made a pile of money.”
Viewers Find It Strange How They Store Their Gold
The mining business is far different than most, and the miners have their own way of doing things. Gold Rush viewers pointed out that it seems odd and risky for the miners to collect their gold in jars until the end of the mining season.
People seem to think that something so valuable should be more carefully stored and watched over. Parker told viewers that he doesn’t worry about it though, since he has “a big safe” and protection to go with it.
Parker Has An Old Soul And An Entrepreneurial Mind
A great deal younger than other miners and business owners on his level, Parker’s genuine interest in the industry and strong work ethic have taken him far. He loves his work and is okay with the sacrifices that he has to make to mine gold.
As a business owner, he’s always looking to save money and has the company on his mind. For his birthday his father gives Parker used equipment from his own business that they no longer need.
He Proved Himself In His Rookie Year
There were people who doubted Parker when he took over the reins of Big Nugget Mine from his grandfather. After all, he was only a teenager. It didn’t take long for Parker to prove that he had what it takes.
In his first year, he mined an incredible 1,029 ounces of gold and went on to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Not only were those fantastic numbers for a rookie, but he was outshining the veterans’ hauls, too.
What Parker Has To Say About Being The Young One
Parker is the youngest miner on the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush by far. In fact, most of the other miners are more than twice his age. In an interview with Scout, Parker discussed how his age affects his business.
He said, “I think my age is an advantage and a disadvantage. The nice thing about being young is that I’m willing to try new technologies and take on a lot of challenges that I think a lot of the other guys wouldn’t. At the same time, without the experience that the older guys have, I’m at a disadvantage. I don’t have the experience of being a boss. I’ll pay for that one, you know?”
He Went On An Extreme Hike As Tribute To His Grandfather
After his grandfather’s passing, John wanted to do something to honor his memory. He decided to take a small group to hike the Klondike Gold Rush trail. The trail is no easy feat — it was the path that pioneers searching for gold followed and thousands of them died on that very trail.
Parker carefully selected two friends to make the trip with him, Rick Ness and Karla Ann. Parker said of Rick, “He was really not built for that kind of thing, you know? So I was interested to see, first of all, if he would do it… and then what kind of attitude he would have about it and if he would stick with it.”
He Needed A Cameraman, But It Didn’t Work Out
Parker also selected a cameraman to follow the three hikers on their journey. He chose James Levelle but soon found that the two of them had clashing personalities. In an interview with People, Parker confessed, “James and I got into it quite a bit. I just don’t really like the guy.”
He continued, “I thought I did before this all really started. I haven’t spoken to him almost since it ended.” It seems as though Parker might have been better off alone…
He Couldn’t Deal With Others While Filming “Parker’s Trail”
It wasn’t just James the cameraman that Parker butted heads with while on the trail. Once the reality of the conditions and the difficulty of the trail set in, Parker just wanted to be alone. “We were stuck in there together, especially in the water… it was challenging.”
The four of them hiked for 18 hours a day and Parker was getting edgy. “It’s easy to forget about some hunger or the cold because I didn’t lose any toes or fingers, but the one that sticks out is the psychological warfare.”
Does His Taste In Music Take After His Grandfather?
Parker is the type of guy who blazes his own trail and has his own opinions. So what’s Parker’s taste when it comes to music? It seems as though his grandfather might have influenced many areas of Parker’s life.
When asked who his favorite bands and musical artists are, Parker said he listens to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson the most. It must not be easy to hear the latest on the radio when you’re out mining!
His Favorite Memory
While you’d expect most people Parker’s age to be focused on all the money he’s raking in, that’s not what Parker said is the most important part of his business. When asked what the highlight of his career and newfound fame is, he gave a heartwarming answer.
Parker replied that the highlight of his career as a gold miner so far is the time he spent learning the trade from his grandfather, and all of the memories that they’ve made together at Porcupine Creek.
What He’d Tell Aspiring Miners
While Parker might not have the decades of experience that some miners do, his success is undeniable. When asked what his advice would be to an aspiring gold miner, Parker told Maxim, “My advice is that you need to start small.”
He continued, “Start off with a gold pan and a tiny sluice box. Don’t go huge where you’re hurting for money and your wife gets mad.” It sounds like he’s talking from an experience a friend had!
The Seasons Make It Difficult
In the same interview with Maxim, Parker dished on what the most difficult part of the job is. “The toughest thing is that it’s very seasonal work and we basically have four months to make a year’s worth of money.”
He continued, “not only is it difficult but it is also dangerous because everybody is working long hours, long days… from a safety standpoint, that’s risky.” Parker has been able to manage all of the risks of the industry and come out on top. So far, he’s mined $14 million in gold.