It took us a little while to leave the trail magic camp this morning, after some amazing blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We ran into Mt Holly Springs for Rambles to pick up a mail drop and to do a small resupply. Then back to Pine Grove: Stretch dropped off Rambles and I to hike north and she headed for a parking lot near the Green Mountain Store to hike south.

The trail was incredibly easy and we ended up doing the first three miles in only 45 minutes, although I have no idea how, it didn’t feel quite that fast. It was only 8.8 miles total for the day as we wanted to have some time at Pine Grove. Rambles and I picked up the car and drove back. We tried to check out the AT Museum while waiting for Stretch, but it was closed despite the giant open sign outside. We checked out the ice cream flavors instead to get ready.

The half gallon challenge is something hikers do at the half way point of the trail: eat a half gallon of ice cream in half an hour and you get a small trophy. Ice cream containers don’t come in half gallons any more, they come in 1.5 quart containers, so a lot of hikers just do one of those and call it a half gallon. But if you want to be a purist, you need to get an additional pint to make it to the full amount. Of course I did, so I got a larger container of neapolitan and a smaller of vanilla.

We set the timer and got started. I figured a slow and steady approach would work and I was surprised to look at Rambles’ and Stretch’s ice cream a few minutes later and see them way ahead of me. Someone else had given us a tip to also have salty food to eat to break up the sweet so I had some chips ready. I also thought that as the ice cream melted it would be easier to eat but it actually became pretty foamy as it melted and grossed me out.

Rambles finished in 15 minutes and started acting like he was going to be sick so we made him go away, afraid of a chain reaction. Stretch finished in 23 minutes and I had so much left still. I finished the 1.5 quart container and a few bites of the pint just under the half hour mark. I was feeling sick at the end and just couldn’t go any faster. So I guess I finished what most people do, just not the whole half gallon. Some people were saying there was no time limit too and to keep going but I was ready to admit defeat and did not want to touch the rest of my ice cream. Rambles picked me up a trophy any way.

We then couldn’t move for a few hours and lay on benches and the ground around the store. More hikers kept joining, doing the challenge, and falling over. It probably looked strange to tourists coming in. Finally we decided we could move enough to head to Fuller Lake in the park for swimming before it got dark. It was actually very nice and then we found hot showers in the bathroom afterwards. Jackpot!

Stretch and Rambles and I finally got back in the car and went to look for burgers. We found a Wendy’s and ate a late dinner, which made me feel overly full and sick all over again. Back to the trail and we found a stealth camp site near parking. It is so hot out still and my stomach is not feeling great. If I had to choose, I would rather repeat the four state challenge than the half gallon challenge. I think I’ll take a break from ice cream for a while, at least until the next town.

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