Pennsylvania Part 2 – The Ice Cream Challenge

HikeItForward-Final-MediumPennsylvania holds the Half Way Point of the Appalachian Trail (mile 1,093). The mile maker is aptly located in the midst of forest trail and not in the middle of a trail town or even at the shelter. It is about 4 miles north of The Birch Run Shelter and 1.1 miles south of Toms Run Shelter.

Pine Grove General Store is located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park (mile 1,097). It is open 7 days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 9:00am to 7:00pm. This store is home to the half-gallon challenge. The unofficial halfway point of the Georgia-to-Maine trek is the front porch of Pine Grove General Store. Thru-hikers traditionally celebrate by consuming a half-gallon of ice cream, a feat known as the “half-gallon 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.

Pine Grove General Store

Pine Grove General Store

Moose Tracks was going to be my pick until I read that, “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.”

Most successful hikers take between 30 to 45 minutes to swallow the last spoonful. The unofficial record of downing the half gallon is less than four minutes. On the store’s counter is the photograph of  “Marley,” the hiker who holds the record for most ice cream consumed – three half-gallons, with three hot dogs between each one!.. and all of it without throwing up. 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.

Countdown – 138 DAYS!!

Photo of store:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Gear, Ice Cream Challenge, Pennsylvania, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Part 2 – The Ice Cream Challenge

  1. janloyd

    I would do vanilla favorite since childhood 🙂

    • After 40-50 days on the trail, I think any flavor will taste incredible. I may lose the challenge but I will enjoy every moment of the loss.

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