TAMPA — Just reading Danny Bernstein's hiking resume can be exhausting.
The Asheville, N.C., hike leader and outdoor writer has walked the entire 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. She's hiked every trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, over 800 miles in all, and completed the 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail through North Carolina. Bernstein has left footprints in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire; in the Catskills, Colorado and Canadian Rockies; on the Kalalau Trail in Hawaii and throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
On Wednesday, the Tampa Garden Club will host Bernstein for a talk about fulfilling her goal to visit all 71 national park units in the Southeast, as described in her fourth book, Forest, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South.
"I started in 2010 and finished last year as my personal contribution to the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service," she said. "To me, the most interesting parks are the ones where I could really talk to people — rangers, interpreters, visitors and park partners."
This most recent quest took Bernstein from northern Kentucky to the southernmost parks in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 10 in Florida, she said, "big ones like the Everglades and Big Cypress, Canaveral National Seashore and two very interesting and historic parks in St. Augustine."
Bernstein, 70, a software developer-turned-computer science college professor, began hiking in her early 20s and currently leads day hikes, week-end and long vacation trips throughout the South.
"These are national treasures — seashores, monuments, battlefields - and we need to spend time beyond seeing the movies and getting your park passport stamped. You have to go several times to really appreciate."
Bernstein's talk and book signing is free and open to the community.