Welcome to the High Sierra Backpacker's Magazine, including forums for local and long-distance hikers sharing info about hiking the Sierra between Tahoe and Whitney.

This Magazine covers everything Sierra. Its
Forums cover TYT, PCT, & JMT and alt-route hiker input from the Guide. The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide explores the trails  & the necessary skills, fitness, and gear required to hike from Tahoe to Whitney. This evolving Magazine covers Current Conditions, News, the Arts, Sciences, Physicality, Spirituality, Gear, Environment, History, and Cultures of hiking Tahoe to Whitney. 

Purposes: Expand Knowledge, Explore Potential

for Beginners: To get you off the couch, gear you up, get you into Sierra Shape, and onto the High Sierra Trails. Find info. Ask questions, get feedback, generate self-understanding and terrain awareness. Find killer short routes up and down the High Sierra Crest.

for Backpackers: Get you in deeper, longer, and higher. Train for the long trails. Find your next-steps trips. Hit the Long Trails. Hike the TYT and JMT. Find and explore side trails, alternative, and cross-country routes until you hike your skills into Winter compentency. Explore your potential.

for Experts: The information to come from anywhere in the US or world and backpack from Tahoe to Whitney. The Sierra Nevada is the ultimate wonderland for expert backpackers in top shape. But don't get cocky! The Sierra is bigger, stronger, and has been, and will be here much longer than any of us.  


Alex Wierbinski's picture

The End of Cold: McMurdo Dry Valleys Unique Environment Threatened sticky icon

CLIMATE CHANGING OUR AMAZING PLANET

The End of Cold
McMurdo Dry Valleys Unique Environment Threatened-Changing

Update
McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.
 McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER.
Fantastic photo credit: McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, full-sized.

 

Researchers analyze biodiversity patterns in Antarctic Dry Valleys,
Virginia Tech, March 20, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Who
"...international collaborative team that analyzed biodiversity patterns in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica."

What
"...understanding of the whole (Dry Valleys) community, from bacteria to multicellular invertebrates."

"...analyzing the physical and geochemical drivers that predict biodiversity patterns."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

March of 2019 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index sticky icon

 

Updated
March 20, 2019

 

LATEST HIGH SIERRA TRAIL NEWS
BELOW

 

LATEST HIGH SIERRA GENERAL NEWS
BELOW

 

LAST MONTHS' NEWS

 

Latest
High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature

 
March
, 2019

Happenings in the relationship between Man and Nature affecting our hike down life's trail through both worlds. We study both the reality created by humans and the uncreated reality reflected in, and tended by Nature. 

The vast majority of our reporting on Nature comes from the American Association of Scientists summarizations of each day's bounty of the peer-reviewed research published by academic institutions and journals around the world.

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WEATHER for High Sierra Backpackers: REPORTS, FORECASTS, PREDICTIONS, SNOW, ROADS, CONDITIONS sticky icon

  ALL
HIGH SIERRA WEATHER RESOURCES

 

QUICK INDEX

FULL INDEX

First
Key Reference
VIEW of the HIGH SIERRA

NEW
GOES-17
CALIFORNIA COAST
NOW
Geocolor
Night & Day California RAMMB Last 2.5 hours

West Coast RAMMB, last two and a half hours
The Last 2.5 hours of California Weather
The above takes a sec to load...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Complex Geology of Tahoe Basin, Emerald Bay sticky icon

HIGH SIERRA GEOLOGY

Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and the Sierra Crestline
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, USA, Credit to GSA & R.A. Schweickert et al.
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, USA, Credit to GSA & R.A. Schweickert et al, large. Map.

 

Complex Geology of Tahoe Basin, Emerald Bay

Underwater surveys in Emerald Bay reveal the nature and activity of Lake Tahoe faults,
Geological Society of America, March 16, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Tahoe Basin
“...Lake Tahoe region is rife with active faults, many of which have created the dramatic and rugged landscapes. The Lake Tahoe region lies between the Sierra Nevada microplate to the west and the Basin and Range Province to the east. Northwestward movement of the Sierra Nevada microplate creates stresses that may produce both strike slip (horizontal) and vertical movement on faults.”

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Understanding the Complexity of Monarch Environmental Engagement sticky icon

MONARCH RESEARCH

Female Monarch Butterfly: Orange
Monarch butterfly by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, wiki.
Males have reddish hue, Wiki. Photo by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, Wiki

Many, Many Monarchs
Many, many Monarchs, credit to MSU, by Karen Oberhauser.
MSU, by Karen Oberhauser, big show-shot.

 

Understanding the Complexity of Monarch Environmental Engagement

When it comes to Monarchs, Fall Migration Matters,
Michigan State University, March 18, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Huge Declines
“Monarch butterflies in eastern North America have declined by 84% on Mexican wintering grounds since the observed peak in 1996.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NASA: Super Bloom Fires Up Anza-Borrego Desert State Park sticky icon

BIOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS of EXTREME WEATHER SWINGS

 

Colors of Life
Fires Up the Sands & Terrain of Anza Borrego

NASA Earth Observatory images of Anza Borrego super bloom by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. This image would typically uniformly be shades of the colors of sand, without the super bloom. Landsat comparison.

 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Wildflower Super Bloom Returns to California,
NASA Earth Observatory, March 18, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“Thanks to a rainy winter in Southern California, a vast bloom of wildflowers has overtaken...” Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

THE MANY FACES of DEATH: Massive Extinction Event Well Underway sticky icon

THE MANY FACES of PLANETARY DEATH

Greed Kills Man & Nature
Skully and his crossbones warns us about growing beyond our ethical and physical frameworks is dangerous.
Warning: Allowing the Emotions of Desire and Pure Greed to Supplant Our Ethical Restraints, to Justify Consuming Everything, is Bringing a Terrible Fate Down upon ourselves & our whole Planet.

 

Massive Extinction Event Underway, Let’s Review the Fundamentals

Every Aspect of Nature in Decline, on the Run

The 12 Signs That Show We're in The Middle of a 6th Mass Extinction,
Scienc Alert, March 18, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

12 Marks of the
Evolutionary Apocalypse
What we’ve got in this Science Alert article cited above has been covered in depth on this site for quite some time, so I’ve, “main-pointed,” their, “12 signs,” of our ongoing Evolutionary Apocalypse, and linked each main point to recent scientific research on that topic, and maybe a bit of news.

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TWO FACES of FOREST DEATH: Heat Causing Fires Preventing Forest Regeneration sticky icon

TWO FACES of FOREST DEATH

Heat Causing Fires Preventing Forest Regeneration

Idaho Complex Fire Aftermath
Forest regeneration failure after Idaho Complex Fire, by Kimberley Davis.
Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest burned in the 1994 Idaho City Complex Fire on the Boise National Forest in Idaho, and little regeneration has occurred since. Photo by Kimberley Davis.

 

UM study suggests climate change limits forest recovery after wildfires,
The University of Montana, March 12, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Heat Triggering Fires is Suppressing Growth
“...climate change makes it increasingly difficult for tree seedlings to regenerate following wildfires in low-elevation forests, which could contribute to abrupt forest loss.”

Ponderosa Pine & Doug Fir
“...examined the relationship between annual climate and post-fire regeneration of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir in low-elevation forests of western North America.”

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Yosemite Announces Delayed Facility Openings, & Beware Snow-Covered Trails through July sticky icon

MONSTER SNOW PACK of the WINTER of 2019

Yosemite Announces Delayed Facility Openings

Note the Snow will Affect High Trail Access, & Damages will Affect Trails Too

Yosemite National Park Announces Late Seasonal Openings for Several Park Facilities,
Yosemite National Park, March 13, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Damaged Facilities
“...that there will be late seasonal openings to facilities throughout the park...due to the exceptionally heavy snowpack in Yosemite National Park and the subsequent extensive damage to many park facilities.”

Stormy Winter
“...significant storm systems in January and February produced high levels of snow, which resulted in temporary road closures, rock and debris slides, and falling trees. Additionally, these storms resulted in extensive damage to facilities throughout the park. Damage to facilities includes trees falling on and damaging campground restrooms, utilities systems compromised, tent cabins damaged or destroyed, and falling trees impacting campsites, parking areas, hiking trails, and roads.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Search Continues for Missing Marine sticky icon

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Badass Behind Schedule

Update: Multi-agency search for missing Marine,
Sierra Wave, March 10, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Departed
Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24

Conditions
See Calendar, End of Feb
Heavy snow fall from 25th to 27th, followed by short break with lite to moderate snow through the 7th.

Planned
Arrival Date:
Twin Lakes on the 5th

“This is the sixth day of an intense multiagency search for missing Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant Matthew Kraft...”

"1st Lt. Kraft’s planned itinerary is the 195-mile Sierra High Route; he is believed to have hiked out of Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24 with a plan of concluding his hike near the Twin Lakes area by Bridgeport, CA on March 4 or 5."

"Both aerial and ground search operations have been utilized; however, weather conditions in the Sierra have been a significant challenge."

"In addition, two Marines from Kraft’s unit are assisting authorities with search efforts at the Search and Rescue Coordination Center."

 

MAPS
Start

Cayenne's picture

Safety First! First Aid Kit for High Sierra Backpackers sticky icon

Cayenne's
First Aid Kit for High Sierra Day Hikers & Backpackers

 Red Cross, international symbol of First Aid, wiki by Jon Harald Søby

Be Ready
High Sierra Day Hikers & Backpackers

Springing!
Spring has come to the eastern Sierras and time to spring clean the first aid kit. Alex has provided excellent information about his first aid kit in the gear list.

Day Use
I am an avid day hiker, so the contents of my bag are a bit different. I also have extensive medical training and access to prescription drugs, so I try to keep stuff to help out others on the trail. This is the time of year I pull the first aid kit from the depths of my day pack and inspect and refill the contents. My bag is not huge and contains all the things I need to survive the sun, rain, cold, bugs and injury/illness for a few days.

Injuries Encountered
The injuries that I have encountered on the trail are blisters, splinters, cuts and scrapes and the occasional laceration that needs stitches. The illness that I have encountered are mild cases of upset stomach, sunburn, bug bites, sore/strained muscles, heat exhaustion and high altitude sickness.

 

First Aid Gear:

Alex Wierbinski's picture

MARCH 6, 2019 PCT-JMT-TYT HIKER WARNING sticky icon

 

March 6

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

HIGH SIERRA SNOW STATUS

PCT-JMT-TYT-TWT Hikers Summer Condsiderations

A "Tropical" Winter
With this last storm, the third Tropical Transport Mechanisms since the beginning of Feburary 2019, (4th since the middle of January), the High Sierra Snowpack is right on the verge of equalling the massive snowpack of 2017. (averages)

High Siera Calendar

Alex Wierbinski's picture

High Altitude Medicine: Half Acetazolamide Dosage Sufficient

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

 

Himalayan Altitude Sickness Warning - Indian Army
Himalayan Altitude Sickness Warning - Indian Army, Wiki by Sistak
Wiki by Sistak

 

Mountain Sickness Medicine

Cutting the standard dose of medication for acute mountain sickness in half does not reduce its effectiveness,
Elsevier, March 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Altitude Sickness
“...10 to 25 percent of trekkers and climbers ascending above 2,500 meters experience AMS, increasing to 50 to 85 percent in individuals ascending above 4,500 to 5,500 meters, especially when the ascent is rapid.”

Acetazolamide
“...acetazolamide is the standard agent of choice for prophylaxis against altitude illness.”

Side Effects
“...the medication also has problematic side effects, especially at high doses.”

“...paresthesia, altered sensation of taste, frequent urination, headache, nausea, and rash have been found to be more common at higher doses and can lead to safety concerns at high altitudes.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Inevitable Southern Ocean Acidification Tipping Point Approaches

 

OCEANS, ICE, FISH & WATER

Inevitable Tipping Point Approaches

Ocean Acidification since 1700
Ocean Acidification since 1700, Global Ocean Data Analysis Project, by Plumbago.
Estimated Change in Seawater pH caused by human CO2 from 1700 to 1990s from Global Ocean Data Analysis Project, from Wiki by Plumbago

 

A Fatal Horizon, Driven by Acidification, Closes in on Marine Organisms in Southern Ocean,
University of Colorado at Boulder, March 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Mechanism of Destruction
"Acidification occurs when oceans absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) created by burning fossil fuels. The absorption alters the water's chemistry, lowering its pH and reducing the amount of available carbonate, which microorganisms like corals and pteropods use to construct their calcium carbonate shells."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Global Distribution of Microbe Resistance found in Sewage

HEALTH & FITNESS

Global Distribution of Microbe Resistance found in Sewage

Antimicrobial Resistance World Map
Antimicrobial Resistance World Map by Frank Aarestrup.
Predictions of antimicrobial abundance in all countries and territories in the world, coloured according to predicted abundance of resistance from light blue (low abundance) to dark blue (high abundance), map by Frank Aarestrup.

 

Sewage Reveals Levels of Antimicrobial Resistance Worldwide,
Technical University of Denmark, March 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Resistance Survey
“A comprehensive analysis of sewage collected in 74 cities in 60 countries has yielded the first, comparable global data, which show the levels and types of antimicrobial resistant bacteria that are present in mainly healthy people in these countries.”

Two Groups
“North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand generally have the lowest levels of antimicrobial resistance, while Asia, Africa and South America have the highest levels.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Longest Orbital Cycles Proven and Measured; Half-Billion Year Super-Milankowitch Cycles

 

Update
What Caused an Ice Age Expansion from 40 to 100 Thousand Years,
“Despite Orbitally Paced Drivers?”

A Gradually Precessing Elliptical Orbit
A gradually precessing elliptical orbit, WillowW, Wiki.
Thanks to WillowW, Wiki
 

Original Research

NATURALLY CHANGING CLIMATE CYCLES
Longest Orbital Cycles Proven and Measured

Super-Milankowitch Cycles a Half-Billion Years Long

In ancient rocks, scientists see a climate cycle working across deep time,
The Earth Institute at Columbia University, May 7, 2018.

 MAIN POINTS

"Scientists have for decades posited that Earth's orbit around the sun goes from nearly circular to about 5 percent elliptical, and back again every 405,000 years."

"...documented a gradual shift in Earth's orbit that repeats regularly every 405,000 years, playing a role in natural climate swings."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Gaia Gives Our Galaxy a, “Physical;” Height, Weight, Girth (?) Determined

ASTROPHYSICS: OUR GALAXY

Globular Clusters Decorate Milky Way
Artist impresses us with accurate conception of globular clusters around Milky Way, by ESA/Hubble, NASA, L. Calçada.
Artist impresses us with accurate conception of globular clusters around Milky Way, by ESA/Hubble, NASA, L. Calçada.

 

Gaia Gives Our Galaxy a, “Physical;” Height, Weight, Girth (?) Determined

Hubble & Gaia accurately weigh the Milky Way,
ESA/Hubble Information Centre, March 7, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Size & Weight
"...the Milky Way weighs in at about 1.5 trillion solar masses within a radius of 129 000 light-years from the galactic centre."

Previous Estimates
"...ranged from 500 billion to 3 trillion times the mass of the Sun. This huge uncertainty arose primarily from the different methods used for measuring the distribution of dark matter — which makes up about 90% of the mass of the galaxy."

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Alabama Hills Scenic Area

NATIONAL STATUS

Alabama Hills Scenic Area

Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills are a strange & beautiful place, by enicholas, pixabay.
Alabama Hills are a strange & beautiful place to end long backpacking trips,
photo by enicholas, pixabay.

 

Alabama Hills Scenic Area Designation a presidential signature away from reality,
Sierra Wave, Feburary 28, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Alabama Hills Stewardship Group
Process
“The process started in 2008 and, though long, could serve as a textbook case of how to bring divergent groups together. For the first two years, the Stewardship Group sought the input of 30 stakeholders and 40 user groups, from OHV enthusiasts to hikers. “In the end, the consensus was to protect the area and people’s access.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Amazing Airborne Lives of Swifts

BIRDS

Amazing Airborne Life

Swifts are Born to Eat and Sleep in the Air,
Lund University, March 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Airborne Life
“Using micro-data loggers attached to the birds, the researchers measured movement when the wings flap. The loggers record activity every five minutes, and the bird's location once a month. Using this method, the researchers have been able to ascertain that the birds live for months at a time in the air during the winter months, the period of the year they spend in West Africa after the breeding season in Italy.”

Only Landing to Breed, Glide Sleep
"They land when they breed under a roof tile or in a hole, otherwise they live in the air. They eat insects while they fly, and when they have reached a high altitude and start gliding, they actually sleep for short periods."

Different Breeding, Different Air Times
“The breeding season dictates why pallid swifts cannot fly for as many months in a row as the common swift, i.e. ten months. Pallid swifts lay two clutches in one season, the common swift only one.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019 Yosemite Half Dome Permit Lottery Delayed

HIGH SIERRA PERMITS

Forest Permit
National Forest backpacking permit.
 

Yosemite Reservation System

Update

Half Dome Lottery to Open on March 13

Yosemite National Park Announces that the 2019 Half Dome Preseason Lottery will Open on Wednesday, March 13, 2019,
Yosemite National Park, March 5, 2019.

 

Original Announcement

Yosemite National Park Announces that the 2019 Half Dome Preseason Lottery will be Delayed,
Yosemite National Park, February 26, 2019.

 

MAIN POINTS

"March 1 Preseason Lottery delayed."

"...due to a transition to a new contracted provider. "

"Check back March 5 for update."

More National Park Information 

 

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