Thursday, January 5, 2023

Dan Noakes releases 5-part docuseries "Ghosts of the Frank" after skiing across the Frank Church Wilderness

Dan Noakes hiking up a ridgeline in "The Frank" (courtesy Dan Noakes)

Hi all,

I'd like to share an amazing story about Dan Noakes, a Donnelly outdoor adventure athlete, who recently skied across the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Solo.  

Noakes did the 110-mile wilderness traverse in 12 days, from the Johnson Creek Road near Landmark and Warm Lake over to Challis. 

I felt that his journey was super impressive and wanted to share it with my friends and followers.
Please see the news release that I put together with Dan, published today: 

Ghosts of the Frank:

Dan Noakes of Donnelly creates 5-part video docuseries
on rare Solo Winter Traverse
of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

DONNELLY, Idaho – (Jan. 5, 2023) – Dan Noakes, an avid and accomplished backcountry skier who resides in Donnelly, is releasing “Ghosts of the Frank,” a 5-episode docuseries on YouTube about his rare, solo winter traverse across the 2.3-million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, today on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.

Through his solo winter adventure in one of the most remote places in the lower 48 states, Noakes gained a great appreciation for the people who once lived, worked and died in “The Frank.”

Traveling along the Middle Fork Salmon River (courtesy Dan Noakes) 

“Ghosts of the Frank” takes viewers on an emotional experience as Noakes combines backpacking and skiing in efforts to connect with his father from whom he was separated during his formative years due to a divorce. The remoteness of the trip in “The Frank” also caused Noakes to ponder what it would have been like for Salmon River pioneers to eke out an existence amid an ocean of mountains many miles from civilization.

Noakes says his solo traverse across the Frank was a “death-defying feat,” done by very few, that tested his mental limits. “It’s a fine line between thriving and surviving out there. If you cross that threshold into the surviving territory, you can go down very quickly. To be totally candid, I actually did fear death on this trip. I feared getting hurt, getting caught in an avalanche, and my equipment failing, all which could be fatal. I would wake up in the mornings and say to myself, “I will make it home, maybe.’ “

Noakes started the 110-mile trip by the South Fork of the Salmon River near Warm Lake. He finished near Challis. It took him 12 days of winter overland travel (hiking/skiing) while carrying a backpack with all of his food and gear to reach his destination.

One can feel very small as a human being amid the enormity of "The Frank." 

In less than a decade of living in Idaho, Noakes has tested his extraordinary outdoor skills by summiting and skiing all nine of Idaho’s 12,000-foot peaks. He created a 10-part part video series on that accomplishment titled, “The 12ers.” In 2018, Noakes backpacked the length of Idaho on the 950-mile Idaho Centennial Trail in less than two months, doing much of the trip solo. He produced a video on that journey as well.

Some of the wisdom that Noakes has learned from his journeys include:

1. "When you find out that your own two feet can take you hundreds of miles, then you realize anything is possible. That is also a metaphor for life.”

2. “Welcome to Idaho! Did you know this was in your backyard? One of the most interesting places in the U.S.”

3. “Connection. Connect with the people and places in your life. In the act of connecting, you will find stories and purpose that you didn't think of before.”

Dan found some deep *pow*! (Courtesy Dan Noakes)

“Ghosts of the Frank” goes beyond skiing and Noakes’ personal life. As part of the docuseries, he examines the controversy of the Forest Service’s decision to burn down cabins as it acquired private lands inside the Frank in the name of wilderness preservation. The film leaves the audience to answer for themselves if the mainstream Wilderness narrative has silenced the whisperings of the ghosts that still roam in the Frank Church today.

Video link:  
Scheduled publication: Jan, 5, 2023 at 6:00am
Noakes YouTube Channel:

“Ghosts of the Frank,” created by Dan Noakes, USA, 2023, 5 Episodes


Be sure to watch the 5-part docuseries. You also might want to watch the 10-part video series he did on summiting and skiing all of Idaho's 12,000-foot peaks! 

Trip map: 


This week, I also worked on PR for the Middle Fork Outfitters Association to get the word out that a new transportation service is much needed for Middle Fork Salmon and Main Salmon River trips this coming summer. Caldwell Transportation is bowing out of the business, and a new company is needed to step up! 

See more in this in-depth Channel 7 report: 

If you know of anyone who might be interested in the Salmon River transportation situation, please have them contact Colin Hughes, with Hughes River Expeditions,

Thanks for reading! 
- SS 

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