Brittany King
October 21, 2016 03:08 PM

Season 7 of Gold Rush premiered with a giant missing piece — family patriarch John Schnabel.

The late miner died in March at the age of 96, leaving behind his grandson Parker, whom he mentored since he was a young boy.

Opening up in a new interview with PEOPLE, Parker talks going into the new season and the aftermath following the death of his grandfather.

“There’s always setbacks going on,” he tells PEOPLE. “This year was a lot different with my grandfather passing away in the Spring. For me personally, it was a big setback.”

“Luckily we had a lot of good years with him and I’ve tried my best to keep things positive and know that… so that’s good,” Parker adds. “He wasn’t very involved in the mine site any more. He was more of a figure head than anything. It was more of a personal thing than it was a business problem.”

Courtesy Discover
Courtesy Discover

Parker also admits that he was worried about the impact his grandfather’s death would have on him mentally — especially at work.

“We know what we’re doing when it comes to moving dirt, but the mental game is huge in any business and running any business,” he says. “It can be mentally trying. He certainly kept me on the straight and narrow and I think everybody, including myself, was worried about just what impact that would have on my ability to keep my cool and keep a level head.”

One thing that did help Parker was getting back to what he does best — mining.

“We were straight back into it and that’s what I wanted,” he reveals. “I don’t want time to sit and stew about it. The best therapy I could have gotten was going back to work, having a goal everyday, having my mind on other things and to get through it with some time.”

“There was a huge amount of support,” Parker adds. “It was pretty amazing to see what fans from the show around the world had to say and how much he had meant to a lot of people. That means a lot to us and my family.”

Gold Rush airs Friday’s (9 p.m. ET) on Discovery.

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