If you drove down A1A at some point during the day on Saturday, Jan. 7, you might have spotted a group of Boy Scouts hiking down the historic roadway.
Seventeen Scouts and adult leaders from Palm Coast’s Troop 281, which is based at Trinity Presbyterian Church, were preparing for the upcoming 34-mile, two-day Barefoot Mailman Hike in South Florida. The Jan. 7 hike was a 20-miler. The Scouts started at sunrise from Marineland and finished at Highbridge Road in Volusia County.
“This group had been preparing for three months,” Troop 281 Scoutmaster Jason Wheeler said. “It’s a grueling event, hiking these distances with a full pack and in full uniform. These kids have done these shakedown hikes with very little complaining and with a ton of Scout spirit. I could not be prouder of them.”
The Barefoot Mailman Hike has been held in Broward and Dade counties for 58 years. Scout units from across the state gather on the first Saturday of February to begin the first leg. It starts in Pompano Beach and ends on South Beach in Miami the next day. It commemorates carriers on the first U.S. mail route (1885-1892) between Palm Beach and Miami, years before roads connected the cities. The mailmen typically walked barefoot along the coastal sand.
“During our four hikes, many of us took our shoes and boots off during the last mile,” Wheeler said. “While none of us will walk the entire hike barefoot, we plan on taking our shoes off when we walk the sands of South Beach.”