Twelve Days in The Frank

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Home Forums Campfire Member Trip Reports Twelve Days in The Frank

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    Eli Simmer
    BPL Member


    Companion forum thread to: Twelve Days in The Frank

    Grapenut and I wanted a large remote area as a setting for a twelve day trip, and we decided that the cheapest way to get to Alaska was in fact to go

    Andrew Marshall


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Good write up Patches!

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    Looks like you had a great trip – but slow, and strenuous! Hope you had a chance to soak in the many local hot springs during or after to help with the aches and pains.

    I rafted the Middle Fork and Main Salmon a handful of times many years ago. Very hard to get private permits. Beautiful country. Saw the occasional horse packer near the river. Kept looking up and wondering what backpacking through the Frank might be like. Now I know.

    Thanks for the trip report.

    — Rex

    Mark Wetherington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Montana

    Cool TR and video, thanks for posting. Great music choice for the video as well, was a nice surprise (I’m a Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy fan as well).  That’s awesome you guys were out for 12 days and I think it’s really cool that you took a vague approach to sharing route details.

    You’re definitely correct about the trail conditions in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness by and large being pretty primitive. It’s the same way for much of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness which is my local backpacking area (although I do get down to the Frank once a year or so usually). Once you  leave the mainline trails or those heavily used by outfitters, the dotted lines on the map basically turn into mere suggestions and I’ve found many of them can vary from faint, to faint and intermittent, to totally nonexistent. The USFS often doesn’t have much useful information on trail conditions, but I’ve noticed it has improved somewhat the last year or two in that regard.

    These wilderness areas are definitely NOT the place to go for people wanting to “crank out big miles” which seems to be the default ultralight goal. Those that do usually end up leaving frustrated, so I’m glad you guys had a good trip and made the most of the admittedly lousy trail conditions. I think the rugged trail conditions, as well as the remoteness of the area, keep down on the crowds which I really like. I certainly enjoy the high-mileage days I hike, but I also like the “real” wilderness” experience of backpacking for days at a time in somewhere like the Frank or the Selway-Bitterroot where you really have to earn the miles.

    If you’re ever back in the Frank or Selway-Bitterroot and want to coordinate logistics for a long point to point hike, let me know. There’s several that have been on my list for years but that I wouldn’t want to do with people who don’t know what they’re getting into.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Love the entire style of your report. Devoid of details but capturing the essence of the FCW. It’s one of my favorite places to walk, for no reason other than the fact that the terrain, the environment, dictates what you do and how far you go. So incredibly satisfying and refreshing. Thank you.

    Drew Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Nice report – you did a fantastic job of conveying the experience in just a few words and clips.

    I hoped to hike this wilderness on my honeymoon (1987) but squandered my bride’s indulgence by spending too many days primitive camping on the Deschutes R on the Warm Springs Reservation during an absolute explosion of mayfly and caddis hatches. Not a fly-fisher, she was not thrilled to be swarmed by clouds of insects all day long.

    Thanks for reminding me that I still need to hike this wilderness.

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