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Postal carrier walks 14 miles a day


Shelley Baker begins her walking mail delivery route near the Coulee Dam Credit Union and covers the entire town, about 600 deliverable addresses. She concludes her route about 4 p.m., and over the years has walked about 50,000 miles in the town. - Roger S. Lucas photos

So you wish it were the weekend so you could take that hike you've been planning. Well, Shelley Baker is looking forward to the weekend so she won't have to take any more hikes for a couple of days.

Shelley does the postal walking route in Coulee Dam, and is up to 50,000 miles walked in the town.

Anyone beat that?

Shelley has been walking 14 miles every working day for about 14 years.

The U.S. Postal Service has 598 deliverable addresses in the town of Coulee Dam. Shelley delivers to them all, every working day.

Say you are having breakfast and you are dreading work. After all, it can be tiring walking from your desk to the coffee pot several times a day.

Shelley is having breakfast and knows she faces all the "ups and downs" the town can throw at her.

She shows up for work about 7 a.m. to sort the route mail, putting all the pieces in order of delivery. On a recent Monday she had 1,500 letters and 500 catalogs to deliver.

That's to say nothing about the packages.

That's the big change since she started her walking route 14 years ago.

Ordering items over the internet is getting more popular every year. And it all falls on Shelley to get them delivered.

Her routing calls for her to park her delivery vehicle and walk up and down the streets - every one in town.

Baker gets done about 4 p.m.

She would be a good candidate for the University of Oregon track team.

Shoes are always a problem when you do a lot of walking, and in Shelley's case it's something she has to work on constantly. She has been diligent in selecting a good walking shoe.

Shelley goes up and down steps, across lawns where it is appropriate, and could probably walk the route in her sleep.

The postal worker's mother, Margie Gallagher, was a substitute on the very same route years ago.

Postmaster Amy Glover said they advertised for a substitute for Shelley's route once and it took the postal service eight months to find someone.

After all, most people don't walk 14 miles a day.

Shelley grew up in the Grand Coulee area and is a graduate of Lake Roosevelt High School.

Her mother is a graduate of Grand Coulee High School.

Winter is the worst for Shelley; she prefers the hot weather to the cold.

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." While the U.S. Postal Service doesn't have an official motto, this one, inscribed on a post office in New York City, is commonly associated with postal carriers.

Shelley has filled this role for about 50,000 miles.

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