It is never a good thing to get off on the wrong foot with people. Especially if your feet are bare feet and your name is Mick Dodge. But this was sort of the case when Dodge came on the TV screen/scene a few years ago.
Some people in the community of Forks were upset with this person, Mick Dodge, claiming to be from this area and nobody had ever heard of him, well almost nobody. Some people had heard of him and some people were even his family that still lived in Forks, and just like the tattooed roots on his bare feet, Mick Dodge has roots here.
Like many people, Mick’s grandparents came to Forks in the mid-1920s. Will Dodge came to work in the timber industry and worked as a timber faller and later in local shake/shingle mills including the Forks Shingle Mill, south of Forks.
Mick’s grandmother Effie Streeter Dodge worked in the lunch room at the Forks School and was a faithful member of the Forks Congregational Church.
Mick’s father Ron was a standout football player at Forks High School. For a short time Ron Dodge served as the Justice of the Peace in Forks and although Mick was not born in Forks, his birth announcement appeared in the Forks Forum.
As a child, Mick would visit his grandparents in the summer and his most cherished memories include his taking off from his grandparents’ house on Camas Avenue and heading out across the Forks prairie to explore. He would later own a cabin south of Forks on the Undi Road.
At a point in Mick’s adult life, he had foot trouble and found himself at one point with both feet in casts. He had read about the practice of foot binding and after the casts came off, he decided to go barefoot. But it was time to go back to work and he worked in an auto repair shop.
Mick remembers trying to work barefoot and for safety reason being told he could not do that. So he tried to cut the bottoms off his steel-toed work boots and said he could “taste the floor” through his feet. “That was the point when I decided my feet didn’t fit the job,” Mick said, “and that is when I started to make my plan to escape to the place I loved.”
Mick started stashing items in the Hoh River area. He spent a year planning and stashing and then the day came and he just dropped out. He had a small support group that knew what he was doing but he stayed mostly undetected living in the Hoh for almost 25 years, only occasionally returning to the modern world until National Geographic came calling.
As “The Legend of Mick Dodge” got underway, it was not long before Mick could see his vision of what the show should be and Nat Geo’s vision were two different things. Mick wanted to include local people and their stories and Nat Geo wanted to create scenarios that were unrealistic.
That is when Mick started messing with them … like the episode about harvesting Dungeness crab in the river. “I started talking to the cameramen,” Mick said, “They told me not to do it, so I kept doing it.” Mick said he tried to get the direction of the show changed but he couldn’t so he and Nat Geo eventually parted ways. Even though the show ended, it gave this area a huge bit of free publicity and people liked Mick Dodge and started to come looking for him.
Mick has now hired filmmaker John Dahlgren, who grew up in Forks, to work with him on some projects, maybe even a movie.
I met with Mick in March for this interview and it was just a few days before the anniversary of his father’s death. Mick was reflective on the impact his father Ron had on his life. “I miss my dad every day,” Mick said. “But, I just don’t think he was having any fun anymore.”
At exactly 6 p.m., March 13, 2012, Capt. Ronald L. Dodge, USMC, died at a senior living center in Everett. He took his own life. “They said he was having a great day that day, he went out on his own terms,” Mick added. Ron Dodge was just shy of his 88th birthday.
So love him or not, Mick Dodge loves Forks and he has plans that already are taking shape at the Huckleberry Lodge. Mick’s Earthgym training sessions already have started and plans are afoot for a line of products that could be made locally and offer jobs in the area. Items include exercise equipment and a possible clothing line as well as other items.
Mick also is looking into other media deals where he has control. Mick says he will continue to live between the modern world and the natural world and he has even recently gotten a cell phone and monitors his own Facebook page.