GARDNERS, Pa. — A gastronomic challenge awaits hikers who make it to the midway point of the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail.

For the past three decades, long-distance hikers arriving at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in south-central Pennsylvania have made it a tradition to eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream. The reward: bragging rights, a small commemorative spoon — and quite likely an upset stomach.

About 350 thru-hikers successfully complete the Half-Gallon Challenge each year. But it's not easy, even for trail-hardened hikers who can burn 4,000 to 6,000 calories a day and still lose weight while consuming vast quantities of food.