Isn’t the Hike Challenging Enough?
So here we are, in the arena of the Appalachian Trail. There have been blood, sweat (lots of it), and tears. It is an emotional dig that will expose your strengths and will lay out your weaknesses for every living being to gawk at. All of the insecurities and questionable aspects about yourself are put on full-blast exposure for you to dissect on a daily basis. This trail has a 25% success rate. That’s pretty freaking low. It is a true challenge.
But apparently this challenge is not enough. There are a few challenges or traditions that have become popular on the AT. They break up the hike and monotony of walking forever. I get it. But I just can’t participate. There are so many ways to get creative on the trail without ruining a meal and/or risking injury or exhaustion.
Ice Cream Half-Gallon Challenge
Description: The ice cream challenge is at the approximate halfway point for NOBOs. You eat 1.5 quart tub of Hershey’s ice cream and a pint of hand-scooped ice cream.
My personal thoughts: I guess in terms of getting a crap ton of calories in one shot: success. I actually considered doing my own half-gallon challenge after Katahdin to honor my flip flop halfway point. But I just can’t get down. Yes, I can do it, but should I? It’s just too much at once. Many hikers who have attempted it have vomited, while eating it, in front of others still eating their ice cream. Gross. They even suggest not getting your favorite flavor in order to not ruin that flavor for the future. I like ice cream, but in moderation. I’d rather indulge in a cold treat and not make myself sick with gluttonous acts.
Description: Hike through four states in one day. Wake up in Virginia, walk through West Virginia and Maryland, and end the day over the border in Pennsylvania.
My personal thoughts: Whoa buddy, slow down! There is so much history in West Virginia and Maryland. War monuments and historical sites are waiting for you around so many turns of the trail. It is obviously a feasible task, especially for NOBOs, but it doesn’t give those states you blow past the respect they deserve. There are 14 states on the trail. They each have a unique blend of flora and fauna. I want to explore and do my best to appreciate every state I pass through. Even Pennsylvania and the rocks. Speaking of, why are you excited to get to Pennsylvania? I’m from PA and even I’m not fooled.
Description: Hike through Connecticut in 24 hours.
My personal thoughts: Connecticut is actually really pretty. The trail is well marked and labeled. Heaven dirt is everywhere. Heaven dirt is the trail floor that actually feels good on your feet. It often consists of dirt, grass, pine needles, and a little bounce. Oh, and the shelters have limited to no graffiti! Slow it down my friend, enjoy. Give Connecticut the respect it also deserves.
Challenges I Support (aka, I Made Up)
- Make it through Pennsylvania without complaining about the rocks. I dare you
- Save a millipede day. Move those baby choo choo trains off the trail.
- Give a pound to every hiker you see in a day and tell them, “You rock!” Especially day hikers who may be struggling on an incline
- Don’t talk about gear or the trail.
*All of this is my personal opinion. You did or want to do these challenges? Go you! You want to hang out on Annapolis Rock in Maryland with me and paint the view? Let’s do it!
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