20-five years ago, Mick Dodge left the modern world and ventured into the Hoh rain forest in western Washington state. He’s been building his life there ever since, sleeping among trees and moss, and living off the land.
Dodge is also known as the “barefoot sensei” because he doesn’t wear shoes. He spends a lot of his time running “Earth Gym” in which he teaches people to work out using the terrain around them instead of traditional gym machines.
Dodge, 62, wasn’t always a nomad. He spent six years in the Marines before working 9-to-5 as a mechanic, according to a profile by Chris Sailor from the Associated Press.
His adventurous life is now the subject of a television series,”The Legend of Mick Dodge,” that aired for the first time on Tuesday night on the National Geographic Channel.
In advance of the premier, Dodge did an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit.
We’ve compiled some of our favourite answers below, which have been edited for clarity.
How the show’s producers found him:
“Yoish! Jenny and Michele of interchange media found me on Whidbey Island living in a tent sharing the Earth Gym practices, and then two years ago I returned to the Hoh River Valley… and set up a Earth Gym for people to come and train. It was the band of women at the Olympic Mountains Earth Wisdom Circle that set up all the modern support to connect me in.”
How he connects to the Internet:
“Yoish! I walk my way to my base camp. Turn on the computer and do you what you do. Though we are having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to do this now.”
What does “Yoish” means:
“Yoish! Yoish, is a word that my sensei taught me in Okinawa. It can mean many things. It helps me focus. If I am going to pick up a heavy stone and lift it. I use the word ‘yoish’ to focus my attention and effort. Then when I am in the game of life and need to get a grip on the moment. I can say ‘YOISH’ deep inside me and ground with the moment.”
What he eats:
“Yoish! I eat food, some times insects, sometimes pizza. I run three terrains in the Earth Gym and have explored how to eat in all these terrains.”
The three items he would recommend bringing to survive in the wild:
“Yoish! Knowledge, skills, and desire. They are the three pillars of training.”
The most meaningful experience in his life:
“Yoish! I have them every day how to fit my bare soles into the gated wild and how to fit them into the modern world and finding the balance the middle path and have a good time while doing it.”
How long it took him to become accustomed to being barefoot:
“Yoish! It has taken 60-two years. I am still following them. I just follow them and find my own rhythm, endurance, strength, and balance in landing the earth.”
How he maintains his free-flowing beard:
“Yoish! Good Hoh Water, living water and not that dead water of the city. The water here is magical, likes to grow things.”
On his encounters with modern living:
“Yoish! I having been stepping ‘in and out’ of modern living and the wild for 60-two years, all of us have. It is a rhythm ‘in and out’ and ‘out and in.’ The key word is the word ‘and,” which tracks and sounds into the word ‘land.” So I land my soles in the three terrains, the walls of the city, through the open fenced lands up into the gated wild and back again, seeking middle earth.”
On whether he’s come close to dying (i.e from weather, hunger, or wild animals):
“Yoish! One of the things that the earth has taught me about hunger, is to run, go on foot and just keep moving, the hunger pains take a back seat. It was amazing how long that I could go on foot and not eat the way that I had learned in domestication.”
How he uses fire to heal himself when he gets sick:
“Yoish! One of the ways I use fire is sweats. Another way is to dance with the fire. I often find that when I get a bit weak, run down. That a good dance with the spirit of fire, pulls me back into the “rapture.'”
And finally…in which he clarifies the description for one of the episodes that says he became so desperate for a decent meal that he looked through elk feces hoping to find larvae eggs:
“Yoish! No I was not going to eat elk sh*t. I was trying to get the camera crew to eat it.”
You can learn more about Dodge in this short clip below, courtesy of National Geographic:
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