UPDATED: February 13th, 2014
National Geographic used to be amazing. Growing up, I would thumb through the magazines, looking at pictures of faraway lands. From Antarctica, to Africa, Australia and Siberia, the world National Geographic showed me was amazing, raw and real. Today, after 125 of existence, National Geographic is a shell of the awesomeness it once was. While the magazine is still decent, the television station, NatGeo, is ruining the good name of the company. Instead of detailed reports, it now has become sensationalized, throwing any story it can together to get better ratings.
The NatGeo channel on cable is an atrocious mess of staged reality shows. While the station does have some good programming, the daily line-up is not exactly groundbreaking and not at all truthful.
Case and point: Mick Dodge. The Legend of Mick Dodge, currently airing on NatGeo on Tuesday Nights takes what could be an amazing premise for a show and turns it into what some consider “mind-numbing television.” The show seems to hide the truth about Mick Dodge and that prompted us to do some research and write this post.
5 FACTS ABOUT MICK DODGE: THE SHOW
Mick Dodge Does Not Live in Solely in the Woods
The show says that Dodge left society 25 years ago to live in the forest. While Mick does occasionally sleep in the woods, he also has claimed that he likes to shack up in the winter at a special lady’s house that lives in the region. He is also part of an amazing community that has lent him a cabin to live in, as the cabin he inherited from his grandfather is no longer safe enough to live in. The show also seems to imply that he forages for all of his food, but upon closer inspection, we feel he is quite stocky for a 62 year old who lives off the land. While we tease about this fact, the man is in awesome shape!
UPDATE: After talking to EarthGym, a group that Mick Dodge is part of, we would like to clarify our points. Mick does leave the forest every so often. He regularly appears via Skype to answer questions about the show and has said he enjoys cookies. Our comments above, while accurate, may have been interpreted as negative toward the man. That was never our intention, and we apologize if you read this as an attack on Mick. Mick often sleeps outside and enjoys being one with nature and we love him for that.
Mick Dodge is not a Survivalist
Mick Dodge is many things, but even he says he is not a survivalist. He is a nature lover and a teacher of all things natural. He is a part of the group “Olympic Mountain Earth Wisdom Circle” which has three main goals. According to their website, they “Expand Human Awareness, Promote Vibrant Health for People and All Life and Restore the Balance Between People and Nature.” He teaches classes, which were the way he was discovered by National Geographic in the first place. He is awesome at survival skills, but to be clear, he does not consider himself a survivalist.
UPDATE: After speaking with the awesome people at EarthGym, this fact holds up. Mick is not a survivalist. He is a man who is reconnecting with his ancestral instincts in nature. He lives off the land as often as possible and strives to raise awareness for all viewers to do the same in their own backyard.
Mick Dodge is Part of a Business
Mick Dodge is involved with the Olympic Mountain Earth Wisdom Circle, which believes “We strive to renew humanity’s connection to nature and to the innate spirit of life through practices and lifestyle approaches that revive sacredness, authenticity and ecstasy – helping humanity takes its rightful place within the intelligent harmony of nature.” The payment he receives for his show was given to this business, which charges anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $3,000 for retreats all over the world. The awesome part about Mick is that all earnings from his TV show go directly to the OMEWC!
More about Olympic Mountain Earth Wisdom Circle: http://earthwisdomcircle.org/index.php
UPDATE: While Mick was paid for the show, he does not have a bank account, check book or debit card. The money (which we were told isn’t much) has gone to help him spread the word about the Earth Gym, as well as give back to the community of amazing people that he is a part of. We meant no negative thoughts about his being paid for the show, only highlighting that he is not a hermit that lives in the woods alone. He has a family of supporters who do anything to ensure that the way of life EarthGym teaches gets as much love and support as it can. We have been in contact with Earth Gym and look forward to supporting them. We could go on about Mick’s generosity, but please trust us when we say that he is an amazing man who deeply cares for both humanity and nature.
Mick Dodge Wears Shoes
While Mick Dodge is known throughout the region as the Barefoot Sensei, he has been seen wearing shoes numerous times. In fact, in an interview with the Peninsula Daily News, he stresses the importance of wearing rubber boots while on the Olympic Peninsula. While the barefoot movement is something that has a ton of merit, we here at Exotic Hikes feel that living on the Olympic Peninsula with no shoes year-round would be plain insanity.
UPDATE: Of every aspect of the show that people seem to talk about, this is the most volatile. Yes, Mick wears shoes, and even does so in episodes of the show. However, being barefoot is something he enjoys, as he regularly mentions how much you can learn about an area by actually feeling it with your feet. The shoes he wears on the show were made by his partners at EarthGym, and they have been teaching fans of the show how to make their own shoes and pants, just like Mick. Being barefoot in the rainforest is probably the most bad-ass thing anyone can do, and we meant no slander or ill will by sharing the fact that he occasionally wears shoes.
On a personal note, I (Douglas Scott, the author of this post) have walked the trails in the Olympic National Park barefoot and it is an eye opener. We suggest you try it on your own trails near your home to reconnect with the earth.
National Geographic tells Mick Dodge what to do for Ratings
Like any reality TV show, Mick Dodge is told what to do. The show puts him in situations that are not a usual day for him, all for the purpose of making television to sell ads. The show tries to pretend that it is just following a man on regular journeys, but Mick Dodge has some words of advice for you, if you believe the show to be 100% accurate.
In an interview with the Peninsula Daily News, he says “It’s a show. It’s a TV show. If you think anything that’s on TV is real, then welcome to America.”
UPDATE: Apparently, the vast majority of people who left comments on this post skipped this section. While NAtGeo scripts the entire show, Mick has been doing a brilliant job of allowing his personality to shine through, despite the editing process. For those who doubt Mick is real or genuine, one look at the passion he has in his eyes shows he is serious about what he does. Each recreation that NatGeo does for the show is actually something that Mick does in real life. He takes on poachers of wood, poachers of animals and people who disrespect the land he has live in and loved for his whole life.
For us here at Exotic Hikes, having Mick Dodge on television is both great and painful. His work generates interest in nature and in the Olympic Peninsula, but at a small cost. The show demonstrates the beauty of the region, but shows it in a way that makes outdoor enthusiasts appear to be cut off from society. It shows a man who loves hiking and the great outdoors in a light that is most unflattering. The show has some good life lessons, as well as a few humorous points, but for those of us who make our living the in the forests and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park, it is painful to watch. Nature lovers should be celebrated and respected for trying to protect beautiful areas from being destroyed. NatGeo seems to not agree and has turned a good man with a great idea into a carnival attraction. Mick Dodge, through the lens of National Geographic, appears to be more of a freak show than the good-natured, kind-spoken barefoot sensei that he is. Mick Dodge deserves to be shown in a better light and the Olympic Peninsula deserves to be represented accurately.
Mick Dodge loves the Hoh Rainforest and the Pacific Northwest. He is passionate about getting people healthy and to use nature as a gym. He wants everyone to experience nature and connect with it. We feel we are justified in saying that National Geographic is doing a poor job of portraying this. Mick is a man who has brought environmentalism, human impact on nature and watershed appreciation to the forefront of national conversation. While the show could do more to emphasize this, Mick’s unique, colorful and warm personality allows his message to be seen and heard by millions each week. We applaud Mick and look forward to learning more valuable life lessons from him.
More info on Earth Gym: http://www.theearthgym.com/
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