Barefootin' it all
The East Bay Barefoot Hikers have hoofed naked (below the ankles) for nearly a decade, meeting monthly for casual three-hour hikes, rain or shine. The group schedules hikes on Mount Diablo, and along Briones, Las Trampas, Redwood, and Tilden regional park trails.
“We had two young girls about 11 or 12 on one really rainy hike,” remembers the group’s leader, Mike Berrow. “One girl, squishing [through] the mud, enthused, ‘This is great. It’s just like being a kid again.’ ”
Beginners start unshod, but can resort to footwear later if they feel the need. Good form saves soles: Be aware of dangerous obstacles like broken glass and barbed wire, don’t drag your feet, and, on lumpy terrain, go almost on tiptoe.
Berrow, a native of Abergavenny, Wales, who managed his college “rambling” club, has had to abandon his British habit of crossing private property. “If you go across a farmer’s field [in England],” he says, “no one is going to shoot you.”
Find information on the East Bay Barefoot Hikers at www.unshod.org/ebbfhike.