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He Lives in a Tree, Wears NO shoes, and Brushes his Teeth with a Pine Cone

Talk about living off the grid. About 25 years ago, Mick Dodge shed his shoes, grew his beard , a...

He Lives in a Tree, Wears NO shoes, and Brushes his Teeth with a Pine Cone

Talk about living off the grid. About 25 years ago, Mick Dodge shed his shoes, grew his beard, and left modern civilization (and a family) to live alone in the Pacific Northwest’s Hoh rain forest. But he’s not a total isolationist; he’s dialed into a community of mountain dwellers and agreed (although it took convincing) to be the subject of National Geographic Channel’s series “The Legend of Mick Dodge,” which premieres with two consecutive episodes on Jan. 7.

In the first episode, Dodge’s mission is to scatter his late father’s ashes up in the mountains — if he can recall where he stashed them. “My family has perfected the art of dodging civilizations for hundreds of years. All I have to do is follow my feet,” says the backwoods philosopher. He’s a memorably quirky character with a unique take on life, as this interview illuminates.

He Lives in a Tree, Wears NO shoes, and Brushes his Teeth with a Pine Cone
 
MNN: What was your life like before you moved to the woods? Did you have a job? Did you get an education?Mick Dodge:
Yes, as a heavy equipment mechanic. I have also dug ditches, chopped wood, washed dishes, and taught the Earth Gym practices. I graduated Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan. Never been to college, but like to read books. If the book makes sense and has value for the earth, I plant a tree and share the book. If the book does not make sense, I plant a tree for it and use it as [toilet] paper or fire starter. My life was about the same as it is now, learning the ways to walk and explore physical exercise and how to create a physical practice that finds the middle ground between the wild and tame, between the gated wild and the walls of modern domestication. However, I must add that I have no feet pain, back pain and my heart is strong [since] I became a barefoot nomad.



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What prompted you to go to the forest in the first place?

My feet hurt. I had hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, deformed feet. They hurt so bad that I could barely walk and I had always used my walk and run to handle the stress of modern living, make sense of the modern world story that I was living in, and the Hoh is home for me. So I went home to heal my feet.

In following my feet I found myself stepping out of the insulation of the modern world and landing in the earth. The results came quickly. Not only were my feet healing, but my back pain, neck pain and most of all my heart pain disappeared, and in no time at all I was back into a dead run, stepping out of the sedentary, stressed, sedated and secured living of the modern world. I was muscling my mind into the heart of the matter. I was dancing as the fire, running as the wind, strengthening as the stone and flowing as the water within, by the simple act of touching with my bare soles and allowing the Earth to teach. It is a simple matter to follow your feet, but is does not come easy. The Earth will eat you if you are not paying attention.

He Lives in a Tree, Wears NO shoes, and Brushes his Teeth with a Pine Cone
 
Is there anything you miss about modern civilization?

I don’t miss it. There is no way to get away from it. So I developed a physical fitness practice in how to step in and out of it, stepping out of the walls, machines, electronics, social babble for awhile, ground back into the natural flow of the land, and then go back in.

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