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Old 07-06-2008, 06:06 AM
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Default Half Gallon Challenge - Pine Grove PA

Here's a recent article about this year's half gallon challenge. One of the things I wanted to do, but unfortunately when I did this part of the Trail it was January. Not only was the store closed, but now way in heck would I have eaten a half gallon of ice cream when it was that cold out!

AT hikers look forward to the ice cream challenge
by CHRIS A. COUROGEN, Of The Patriot-News
Saturday July 05, 2008, 12:01 AM

JOHN C. WHITEHEAD, The Patriot-News"I don't know what is harder -- eating a half-gallon of ice cream or hiking a trail," said Julie "Bearbait" Moore of Fort Collins, Colo. Moore downed the entire box of mint choco¬*late chip to win the half-gallon challenge at the Pine Grove Furnace General Store Tuesday.
As if walking 2,175 miles, mostly over rugged mountain terrain, is not challenging enough, through hikers on the Appalachian Trail face another daunting test when they reach Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

The unofficial halfway point of the Georgia-to-Maine trek is the front porch of the park's general store. There, hikers traditionally celebrate by consuming a half-gallon of ice cream, a feat known as the "half-gallon challenge."

"Eighteen miles I hiked for this," said James Davis, 59, of Wilmington, N.C., as he downed his half-gallon of chocolate Tuesday afternoon. Davis, whose trail name is "Brush Strokes," left the Quarry Gap shelter near Caledonia State Park, intent on making it to Pine Grove Furnace.

"I didn't even stop for lunch. I wanted the ice cream," he said.

By late afternoon, nine through hikers were gathered on the porch, all but two taking the challenge. It's become a goal for many hikers since the challenge began 27 years ago. Back then, it was free if you finished it. These days, hikers have to pay for their ice cream, but those who finish are rewarded with commemorative wooden spoons and get to sign the store's half-gallon challenge book, similar to the registries hikers sign at stops along the trail.

"Two shelters back, everybody was saying, 'I'm going to destroy the ice cream.' Every entry in the registry was about the ice cream," said Rachel "EZ Does It" Farmer, 25, of Johnson City, Tenn., as she struggled to finish her half-gallon of Moose Tracks.

"Moose Tracks is the hardest flavor to finish because of the candy and the fudge chunks," said Jennifer Hoffman, 19, of Gardners, who is in her third summer working at the store. "The easiest is Neapolitan, because there is no candy to weigh down your stomach and the three different flavors keep you from getting bored."

Some variety-seeking hikers opt for four pints instead of a single half-gallon. Most take between a half-hour and 45 minutes to polish it off. The fastest this summer has been just under 10 minutes, which pales compared with the record of less than four minutes. On the store's counter, Hoffman displays a picture of "Marley," the hiker who holds the record for most ice cream consumed, at least since Hoffman has worked there.

"He ate three half-gallons, with three hot dogs between each one," Hoffman said with a laugh. "Somehow he kept it all down."

The store gets a delivery of 42 half-gallons of a variety of Hershey's Ice Cream flavors every Friday. If it runs low, employees head to a supermarket to resupply midweek.

The trend toward smaller packaging could threaten the challenge's future. Hershey's Ice Cream is one of the few brands that have not switched from half-gallons to smaller 1.75-quart packages.

"Hopefully, they won't change," Hoffman said.

Hoffman enjoys the tales she hears from the hikers who stop at the store, but don't expect her to succumb to the trail's allure.

"I can't see myself taking off work for six months to hike from Georgia to Maine," she said. "I kind of like my showers in the morning."

Not even the lure of a half-gallon of ice cream can get her to change her mind.

"Ironically," Hoffman said, "I'm lactose intolerant."

Here's a link to the original article:

Peace be with you
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:41 PM
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LIhikers LIhikers is offline
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My wife and I spent a night at the Iron Master's hostel. We had to wait a little while for the hostel to open in the evening and wandered over to the store. We looked into the freezer that holds the ice cream and asked each other if we wanted to give the half gallon challenge a try. We both decided to pass, a half gallon is a LOT of ice cream to eat at one sitting.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:49 PM
crazy stick crazy stick is offline
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hadnt heard of this, now im even more excited for the AT! I LOOOOVE ice cream, i know i can do this, I have done it before. cant wait for that wooden spoon!
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Old 07-06-2008, 08:52 PM
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Tangent Tangent is offline
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hmmmm... so all I would have to do is eat two gallons of ice cream and I would have the record... that's doable.
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:17 PM
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john gault john gault is offline
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The hiker-appetite is amazing! In 2006 I once sat in an AYCE breakfast buffet and ate numerous plates, then they started setting up a lunch buffet and I started eating the lunch, until the waitress reminded me that I was only billed for breakfast so I couldnít eat the lunch. So I had to leave, but I left a good tip. I didnít even have a full stomach Ė truly awesome feeling when you can eat so much and not even feel bloated. Thatís the best thing, IMO, of a long distance hike
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:33 AM
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Iceman Iceman is offline
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Default Did it in about 20 minutes..

and I was not rushing. When I finished they told me I had the season record (aside from those that microwave it and drink it - sick but true). I think my record lasted about 3 days.

As I walked in one guy had just been violently sick to his stomach trying. A real buzz-kill.
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:18 AM
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7Sisters 7Sisters is offline
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Originally Posted by Iceman View Post

As I walked in one guy had just been violently sick to his stomach trying. A real buzz-kill.
yea I can see that being a buzz kill
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:48 AM
OldFeet OldFeet is offline
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l knew there was a reason l planned this years section to finish at Pine Grove Furnace. If things go according to plan l'll have 9 miles or so the last day to work up an appetite and then stare contently out the car window as my wife drives me home
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. --- John Muir 1938
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:13 AM
jersey joe jersey joe is offline
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I did the half gallon challenge on my thru hike. It took about 40 minutes. Harder than I thought it would be. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to digest and I hiked the rest of the day without any issues. Much easier to digest then the 7 pieces of pizza I ate in Harpers Ferry. That nearly made me sick. Interestingly, the choice of flavor could help/hurt you successfully finishing the icecream. I ate cookies and cream which was 3300 calories while a half gallon of vanilla was only 2000 calories!
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:29 AM
Snickers06 Snickers06 is offline
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Default the half gallon challenge

on my 2006 At hike I stayed at the Iron Mansion hostel and also partook in and succeeded at the half gallon challenge.

Some itmes about the challenge:

1) it is hershey ice cream so not the best but hey it is still ice cream

2) it isn't a full half gallon though it is close

3) consuming a half gallon of ice cream, over a half hour period or so, is easy..if you are an AT thru hiker.

An AT thru hiker can and will eat almost anything that doesn't run away from.

If you haven't done long distance hiking like the AT then you don't really know true hunger till you do. You truly can eat all you want and not gain an ounce.

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