How do you explain a gap on your resume? For Dale “Trail Boomer” Morehouse, it’s easy: he was thru-hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
On June 19, 2022, Morehouse completed his thru-hike in Sturgeon Bay, becoming the first thru-hiker this year to reach the East Terminus.
It was the culmination of a journey that started more than two years earlier.
As COVID-19 hit, the company Morehouse worked for was sold, which ultimately resulted in him getting laid off.
This meant he had new-found time on his hands, which he used to start preparing for a thru-hike.
Morehouse is an Antigo (an Ice Age Trail Community) native and now lives in Weston. He and his wife have participated in the Mammoth Hike Challenge and hiked 300-400 miles of the Ice Age Trail. However, there were many parts of it he had never hiked.
“I wanted to meet this personal challenge before I turned 60,” says the 57-year-old thru-hiker.
Originally, he aimed for an entirely self-supported hike. But, early on, he found himself short on food and in need of his wife’s assistance. So, that goal “went out the door,” he says. Instead, Morehouse decide to accept minimal assistance as he hiked to complete the Trail before July 4.
“I ended up finishing a lot earlier than I thought,” he says. And, that was a little surprising considering he wasn’t entirely sure he’d be successful when he started.
Going from the west, Morehouse experienced less than ideal Trail conditions, an unfamiliar Trail, challenging weather, and shoe issues.
Once he got in the groove, however, Morehouse learned he is good at thru-hiking. He says he really got the details dialed in (with the exception of food, which he’s still working on). He ditched the camp stove. He learned to enjoy cold Ramen bombs. At one point, he was so dialed in, he went more than 30 miles a day for 5 days. He realized that “was a tad too much.” So, he paced himself—to ultimately average 22.5 miles a day.
The first eight days of his hike, Morehouse didn’t pass another hiker. But, soon he crossed paths with multiple thru-hikers, including Heather “Steady” Wederman, Dosu Kinata, and Huck was Here. He also estimates he encountered “three to four-hundred barking dogs, but I didn’t get one bite.”
“It’d be great if the State would recognize how special the Trail is and help acquire land for it.”
As a member of the Central Moraines Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Morehouse is excited to help with Trail maintenance and Trailbuilding. Now that he’s walked the entire thing, he knows its potential. He looks forward to helping reduce the roadwalks. “It’d be great if the State would recognize how special the Trail is and help acquire land for it,” he says.
He also wants to help draw attention to the Trail. Most people he met along the way really didn’t know much about it (except when he was in a Trail Community). People were always friendly, he says, but most thought he was a bum.
Volunteering for the Trail will have to be done on the side, as Morehouse says he will return to work. As a married, father of two, being away from home for extended periods of time is not ideal. However, in a few years, he plans to thru-hike again on a different trail.