ASHEVILLE, N.C. — North Carolina’s Year of the Trail in 2023 celebrates and promotes the state’s extensive trails.
In the midst of the celebration, Carolina Mountain Club, the oldest hiking and trail maintaining club in the south, is celebrating 100 years.
Club member Danny Bernstein has walked the mountains-to-sea trail across North Carolina, 1,000 miles through the state, and finished all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for over 800 miles.
Even in some of her most difficult hikes, the best approach for Bernstein is taking it step by step.
“Hiking, you put one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there,” Bernstein said. "I’m not the fastest, but perseverance certainly goes a long way.”
Whether her first or 10th time on a trail, she approaches it with great curiosity.
“Do bikes come here?” Bernstein asked. “Do horses come here?”
Some gravitate toward wildlife and insects. Bernstein gravitates toward history.
“Every trail has had people and has had a story,” Bernstein said.
Her mind fills with questions and a drive to learn more.
“I’m always interested in land like this,” Bernstein said. “What was it before?”
It was her Appalachian journey 20 years ago that first brought her to Asheville, and where she knew would be her new home.
“The A.T. [Appalachian Trail] goes right through Hot Springs,” Bernstein said. “So, we came here, and we looked around, and we said ‘hmm, there’s something here.’”
As an active member of Carolina Mountain Club, she’s helping tell the club’s story of maintaining the North Carolina trails for over 100 years.
“We’re still protecting over 400 miles of trail with trail crews and section maintainers. We have a great story to tell,” Bernstein reads from her book.