The Barefoot Sensei – Former Marine Left Everything Behind to Live in the Forest

The Hoh National Rainforest, a temperate rainf...

The Hoh National Rainforest, a temperate rainforest, in the Olympic Mountains, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)(GFDL)

Have you ever felt like the modern life is making you sick, and you just want to get away? Well this guy did just that, and is thriving.

via Oddity Central

Mick Dodge has spent the past 25 years away from civilization, living off the land in a rainforest. The former marine gave up his 9-to-5 job as a heavy equipment mechanic at Fort Lewis to take up this alternative lifestyle. “That’s my real life passion,” he says.

Dodge is actually a native of the Hoh Rainforest, located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington State. His great-grandparents settled in the region; Dodge grew up there and in several other places around the world. Eventually, thanks to his father’s influence, he became an extreme fitness freak.

But the 62-year-old doesn’t miss the gym in the outdoors. He has created a unique concept called the Earth Gym – a sort of YMCA in the forest with natural equipment. Dodge uses cargo nets, straps, stones and ropes to create a fitness regimen of his own. Students come to learn from him as well, and he teaches them exercises developed on a connection with nature. His extreme techniques include running barefoot upstream in the Sol Duc River.

In fact, Dodge doesn’t use any footwear at all. Whether he’s walking, running or climbing, he does not prefer to use shoes or sandals. He has been living barefoot since 1991, a decision that he claims has cured him of plantar fasciitis, back pain and hammer toes. He said that it has also helped him interact more intuitively with the natural world.

Dodge’s bad feet were actually the trigger that lead to his extraordinary lifestyle in the forest. “My feet hurt. 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. The Hoh is home for me. So I went home to heal my feet.”

It turned out to be the best decision of his life. “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 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.

But being barefoot hasn’t always worked out for the best – there have been times when Dodge injured himself. Like this one time he went running in the early winter and almost lost his toes to the snow. He said that the incident taught him a powerful lesson: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Now, he sometimes allows himself to wear knee-high buffalo skin boots with elk horn buttons.

Dodge is very practical; he isn’t a complete naturalist and I suppose this helps him survive. In the wet climate, he prefers wearing plastic garments to protect himself from the rain. “The art of living out here is the art of staying dry,” he said. He also has the remarkable ability to eat pretty much anything.


  • BuzzCoastin

    In fact, Dodge doesn’t use any footwear at all.

    big foot?

    • echar

      That’s why we can’t find him!

  • Damien Quinn

    Seems like an interesting guy.

  • Hadrian999

    too bad that reality show is so painful to watch thanks to the producers