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John Wigington, who is walking to raise funds for House of Hope, takes on the challenge of a downing a half gallon of ice cream at one sitting at the half-way point on the Appalachian Trail.

As a child, you were undoubtedly dared or challenged to do something by your “friends” or siblings. That dare usually involved doing something that you would not normally do. The pressure to live up to the challenge is even greater when the dare is a tradition, and especially if the challenge is widely known or publicized. That was exactly the situation I faced when I completed the first half of my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike on June 13, 2011. The traditional challenge is that AT thru-hikers must attempt to eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream at one sitting, after completing the first half of the Trail. Although I had not read a newspaper in over two months, my wife informed me that I had to accept the challenge, since a nationally - syndicated news article highlighting this tradition had recently appeared in the newspapers and several folks had mentioned it to her.

Just beyond the sign in Pennsylvania marking the AT mid-point (1,090.5 miles), there is a camp store in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park, where they sell ice cream by the half-gallon. By the way, these are real half-gallons, not the 1.5 quart container that is often now being sold as a half gallon in the stores today. I had hoped to purchase Neapolitan ice cream, because I figured with three different flavors in one container, I would not get tired of a single flavor and quit part way through the challenge. But, the store was out of my first choice, so I went instead with vanilla ice cream containing chocolate swirls and peanuts.   

I had paced the consumption of my snacks and lunch that day so that my peak hunger would occur in the mid-afternoon, about the time I would take the challenge. It was a relatively cool afternoon, so I took my half gallon to the picnic table in the sun. I felt that I had a distinct advantage over the others who had accepted the challenge, because I was armed with my long-handle, super strong titanium spoon, as opposed to just a plastic spoon. I began eating from around the edges of the box where the ice cream first softened up, working toward the center. Forty minutes later I had consumed the entire half-gallon! I had met the Half-Way, Half-Gallon Challenge and survived. The prize for meeting the challenge is a small wooden spoon with the words “½ gallon challenge” stamped on it. But, the real satisfaction came from knowing that I had greatly boosted my calorie intake for the day! And then, I ate my dinner about an hour later.

Now that I have met that challenge I would like to lay one on you. Through the Hiking for the House of Hope fund-raising campaign, we have so far raised $5,855.27. I challenge you to make your contribution today and help double the funds raised during the next 1,090.5 miles of my hike of the Appalachian Trail. You can get the donation forms online at www.ccchouseofhope.com or pick up forms at Plateau Outdoors on West Avenue or the CMC Wellness Center. Remember that contributions are tax-deductible and all funds go to the House of Hope to help the endangered children in our community. All those who contribute to Hiking for the House of Hope campaign will have their names entered in an end-of-hike drawing for an additional prize. Thank you for your support.

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