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.  


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Observing the Celestial Sphere, Dec 2018: Comet 46P/Wirtanen & The Geminids TONIGHT sticky icon

ASTROPHYSICS

Observing the Celestial Sphere TONIGHT

Comet 46P/Wirtanen & The Geminids
Tonight, December 14

 

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

See a Passing Comet This Sunday,
NASA, December 14, 2018.

 

46P/Wirtanen at perihelion,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.

 

DATA: comet 46P/Wirtanen,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.

 

 

Geminids Reaching Peak Tonight

Geminid meteor shower,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.

 

 

In the Sky

2018: Descent of the Summer Triangle, Rise of the Winter Circle

 

 

Star Maps & Charts

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Sierra Snowpack Could Drop 79% by End of Century sticky icon

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: WEATHER, WATER, and MASSIVE GROWTH

California’s Current Irresponsible Population at Risk?

Why’s Our Corporate Leadership Growing our Population into Disaster?

GREED

79% Drop in Sierra Snowpack Projected by 2100

Sierra snowpack could drop significantly by end of century,
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, December 11, 2018.

West Sierra Flank Watersheds
 Berkeley Lab)
Berkeley Lab researchers analyzed the headwaters of these 10 major California reservoirs. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

MAIN POINTS

Our ongoing self-induced climate destruction, “...will almost certainly feature a decline in fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

41% Sierra & Rocky Mountains Snow Pack Loss since ‘82 sticky icon

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: WEATHER, WATER, and MASSIVE GROWTH

Science in Action
Measuring snowpack in a "snow pit" along Arizona's Mogollon Rim during a snow survey in 2017. Credit Patrick Broxton, copyright 2017.
Measuring snowpack in a "snow pit" along Arizona's Mogollon Rim during a snow survey in 2017. Credit Patrick Broxton, copyright 2017.

Results

41% Snow Pack Loss Since ‘82,

79% of that Gone by 2100

 

Research

Declining snowpack over western US mapped at a finer scale,
University of Arizona, December 12, 2018

Original Research Report Above, for the Article Below

 

The Popular Press

As Snow Disappears, the Sierras and Rockies Are Shrinking,
Wired, December 12, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“...the High Sierra and the Rockies are, in effect, shrinking, according to a new analysis of the nation’s snowpack over the past 36 years.”

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Despite More Intense Rain, Blue Water Decline from Warmer Soil’s Reduced Runoff sticky icon

WATER SUPPLY SHRINKING GLOBALLY

Blue Water Decline from Warmer Soil’s Reduced Runoff

The long dry: why the world's water supply is shrinking,
University of New South Wales, December 13, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

More Rain = Less Water
“...our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain.”

Scope
“...the most exhaustive global analysis of rainfall and rivers...”

No Models
“...relied on actual data from 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites in 160 countries, instead of basing its findings on model simulations of a future climate, which can be uncertain and at times questionable.”

Results
"We expected rainfall to increase, since warmer air stores more moisture - and that is what climate models predicted too. What we did not expect is that, despite all the extra rain everywhere in the world, is that the large rivers are drying out.“

Alex Wierbinski's picture

July’s, “Bay-Delta Plan,” Reducing California River Water Withdraws, PASSED sticky icon

WATER is for FIGHTING

July’s, “Bay-Delta Plan,” Reduced River Water Withdraws, PASSED

State board approves controversial river flows. What’s the next step for MID, TID?
Modesto Bee, December 12, 2018.

This article above & below references the Dept of Water Resources, “Bay-Delta Plan,” of last July:
California proposes reducing river flows for farms & cities

MAIN POINTS

“The state board, on a 4-1 vote Wednesday, approved a Bay-Delta plan that includes what the districts consider unacceptable flow requirements for the Tuolumne River, as well as the Stanislaus and Merced rivers, a decision that’s expected to spawn lawsuits in the next 30 days.”

Scammers
“The MID and TID, and its partner the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, wanted more time for an environmental review on the voluntary settlement negotiated with representatives of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Water Resources.”

MID Modesto Irrigation District

TID Turlock Irrigation District

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Research: Increasing Antarctic Snowing Replacing a Third of Increasing Ice Loss sticky icon

ECO-CRASHING ANTARCTIC ICE NEWS

Increased Snowing Replacing a Third of Ice Loss

100 Years of Accumulated Mass Change over Antarctica
100 Years of Accumulated Mass Change over Antarctica. Credit to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Antarctic Ice Mass Change Gauge, the Last Hundred Years, credit to NASA!
Credit to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Check out the Video on the Report.

Snow over Antarctica buffered sea level rise during last century,
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, December 13, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Steadily Increasing Snowfall
“...an increase in snowfall accumulation over Antarctica during the 20th century mitigated sea level rise by 0.4 inches. However, Antarctica's additional ice mass gained from snowfall makes up for just about a third of its current ice loss.”

“...without these gains, we would have experienced even more sea level rise in the 20th century."

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2,500 year old, 881,849 pound, Quarter-Square Mile Super Mushroom sticky icon

AMAZING LIFE

Super Shroom

2,500 year old, 881,849 pound, Quarter-Square Mile Super Mushroom

'Humongous fungus': 25 years later, this Armillaria gallica is bigger than first thought, says researcher,
Physorg, University of Toronto, November 14, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Discovered
“In 1992...estimated that the honey mushroom, which is growing in a forest on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, was 1,500 years old, weighed 100,000 kilograms and covered 15 hectares.

Today’s Estimate
“Using current research and analytic techniques...that the mushroom is at least 2,500 years old, weighs 400,000 kilograms and covers about 70 hectares.”

"I view these estimates as the lower bound."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 ADVENTURE: Two Explorers Set Out to Cross Antarctica sticky icon

Keep Updated

TRACKING RUDD

12 miles to South Pole on Dec 12

Tracking Captain Lou Rudd, from Shackleton Clothing, London.

TRACKING O'BRADY

3 miles to South Pole on Dec 11

“...follow his GPS tracker in real time or check his posts on Instagram.”

 

ADVENTURE !

Two Explorers Set Out to Cross Antarctica

Brit Solider & American “Motivatior”

The Brit Solider

Captain Louis Rudd

British soldier will attempt to be the first person to cross Antarctica solo in an 1,500km journey - 104 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton's failed bid to cross the frozen continent,
Daily Mail, November 3, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

"Captain Louis Rudd will attempt to cross 1,500km of Antarctic ice in 75 days"

"The Spirit of Endurance trek is inspired by Shackleton's expedition of 1914-17"

Alex Wierbinski's picture

December 2018 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index sticky icon

 

Updated
December 14, 2018

 

LATEST HIGH SIERRA TRAIL NEWS
BELOW

 

LATEST HIGH SIERRA GENERAL NEWS
BELOW

 

LAST MONTHS' NEWS

 

Latest
High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature

 
December, 2018

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.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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

    HIGH SIERRA WEATHER RESOURCES

 First
Key Quick Reference 

 QUICK VIEWS of the HIGH SIERRA

GOES EAST
NW US TRUE COLOR
Smoke Fills the San Joaquin Valley

GOES E GeoColor True Color daytime, multispectral IR at night

MODIS
November 15, 2018

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Arctic Report Card Documents 'Cascading Effects' Of Warming Ocean Temperatures sticky icon

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: END of COLD ARCTIC

The Grading Process
NOAA science on Arctic Ice, photo credit NOAA.
NOAA Science on the Arctic Ice, Credit NOAA.

Global Ramifications

Arctic Report Card Documents 'Cascading Effects' Of Warming Ocean Temperatures,
NPR, December 12, 2018.

2018 NOAA Arctic Report Card

MAIN POINTS

Vast Transformation
“The Arctic has experienced the "most unprecedented transition in history" in terms of warming temperatures and melting ice, and those changes may be the cause of extreme weather around the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2018 Arctic Report Card.”

“...rapid warming over the past three decades has led to a 95 percent decline of the Arctic's oldest and thickest ice.”

CHAOS
“...it may be the catalyst for extreme environmental events across the world.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

All Alaska-North Canadian Infrastructure at “Immediate” Risk sticky icon

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: END of COLD, PERMAFROST

All Alaska-North Canadian Infrastructure at “Immediate” Risk

Study: Degrading permafrost puts Arctic infrastructure at risk by mid-century,
University of Alaska Fairbanks, December 11, 2018.

Holy Alaska!
UAF researcher Vladimir Romanovsky poses in a place where permafrost has thawed, causing a surface disruption. UAF photo.
UAF researcher Vladimir Romanovsky poses near Fairbanks, Alaska in a place where permafrost has thawed, causing a surface disruption. UAF photo

MAIN POINTS

70% in 30 Years
“Seventy percent of the current infrastructure in the Arctic has a high potential to be affected by thawing permafrost in the next 30 years. ”

No Escape
“...meeting the climate change targets of the Paris Agreement will not substantially reduce those projected impacts”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt 'Off the Charts' Compared with past Four Centuries sticky icon

Updated
December 10th!

 

ECO-CRASHING OCEAN NEWS

Waterworld on the Way

Greenland ice sheet melt 'off the charts' compared with past four centuries,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, December 5, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“Ice loss from Greenland is one of the key drivers of global sea level rise.”

Overdrive
"Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive. As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years."

"And increasing melt began around the same time as we started altering the atmosphere in the mid-1800s."

Off the Charts
“From a historical perspective, today's melt rates are off the charts, and this study provides the evidence to prove this"

Vast Increases in Melting
"We found a fifty percent increase in total ice sheet meltwater runoff versus the start of the industrial era, and a thirty percent increase since the 20th century alone."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

HEALTH NEWS: Weak Fat Children Around World, & 88% of American Adults Metabolically Unfit sticky icon

 

HEALTH & FITNESS NEWS

Two Research Reports

1> Weak Fat Children Around World

2> 88% of American Adults Metabolically Unfit

 

Updated
December 10
Science Tracking Tech Tards

 

 

1> A Technological Wonder!

Fat , Weak Children Around World

Childhood physical inactivity reaches crisis levels around the globe,
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, November 26, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“Children around the world are not moving enough to maintain healthy growth and development...”

“…compared 49 countries from six continents to assess global trends in childhood physical activity in developed and developing nations...”

Modern Zombie Fatasses
“...modern lifestyles – increases in screen time, the growing urbanization of communities and the rise in automation of previously manual tasks – are contributing to a pervasive public health problem that must be recognized as a global priority.”

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Totten and Four East Antarctic Glacial Neighbors are Moving sticky icon

WATER, ICE, OCEANS, & FISH

East Antarctic Glaciers Moving Rapidly
Totten and E Antarctic Glaciers, Landsat 8 — OLI
Totten & E Antarctic Glaciers, NASA, Landsat 8 — OLI

Totten, & More Glaciers in East Antarctica Are Waking Up

Totten and Four Neighbors are Moving,
NASA Earth Observatory, December 11, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

It’s Moving
“...scientists have long considered the eastern half of the continent to be more stable than West Antarctica. Now new maps of ice velocity and elevation show that a group of glaciers spanning one-eighth of the East Antarctic coast have been losing some ice over the past decade.”

Fast
“...found that the surface height of four glaciers west of Totten, in an area facing Vincennes Bay, has dropped by an average of nearly three meters (9 feet) since 2008.”

East Antarctica on the Move
“Such levels of ice loss are small when compared to those of glaciers in West Antarctica. But still they speak of nascent and widespread change in East Antarctica.”

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SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES: Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic Southwest Drought sticky icon

SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
Rearranging the Deck Chairs inside the Titanic Southwestern Drought-Aridification

Relentless, Endless Growth vs Diminishing Resources: Something’s Gonna Give

Why the next few weeks could make or break Arizona's water future,
Arizona Republic, November 14, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Crisis on the Colorado River
"...Lake Mead – which supplies 40 percent of our water – has a one in five chance of falling to catastrophically low levels by 2026, requiring cuts that will hurt every water user in this state."

Crisis Plan
DCP
"The proposed Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan aims to lower that risk for a time by requiring Arizona, California and Nevada to leave more water in the lake."

Except Arizona
"Yet the plan has reached an impasse in Arizona, and how we resolve it will have repercussions for years, maybe even decades."

 

tmorton23's picture

High Sierra Backpacking Trip Report: Twin Lakes-Benson Lake Loop, July 14 to July 21, 2018 sticky icon

 

Trip Report
Bensen Lake Loop

July 14 – 21, 2018

Editor's Note
This trip begins and ends at the Twin Lakes Trailhead in the Toiyabe-administered Northern section of the Hoover Wilderness. It climbs precipitiously to, then over the Sierra Crest, into the heart of the very difficult backpacking terrain of the North Yosemite Backcountry.

Intercepting the routes of the unified PCT-TYT along Rancheria Creek in Kerrick Canyon, our route turns South with them, down through the beauties of Seavy Pass before plunging down into the Bensen Hole, only  to climb back out and over Bensen Pass, on our way back to Twin Lakes by splitting off the PCT-TYT to climb up through Matterhorn Canyon, on our way back to our starting trailhead at Twin Lakes.

Check out the maps, miles, and description of this fine route below...
 

Time & Distance

Eight Nights

Around 54 miles

 

All Photos

 

Trail Guide

Bensen Lake Loop Detailed Map

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Boundary Sign
Alex Wierbinski's picture

Two Twin Tunnels Articles: Water & Growth, Another Arena of Extreme Political Corruption

WATER SUPPLY

 

LATEST UPDATE: Third Article, below, Added
December 10, 2018
KILLING THE TWIN TUNNELS

Delta Stewardship Council Hurdle Derails Devils Straws

A Temporary Reprieve

LATEST UPDATE

Delta tunnels won’t get green light before Gov. Brown leaves office. What will Gavin Newsom do?
Sac Bee, December 7, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Dead for Now!
“...the Department of Water Resources withdrew its petition to the Delta Stewardship Council to have the project deemed in compliance with what’s known as the the Delta Plan, a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put protection and restoration of the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary’s eco-system on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.”

“Without the council’s green light, the $16.7 billion project, known officially as California WaterFix, can’t go forward.”

“Now they have to go back to the drawing board and prepare a new certificate.”

“it’s hard to see how these issues could be fixed quickly.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Spider Babies Like Spider Milk

AMAZING LIFE

Spider Babies Drink Spider Milk

The Next Health Food Fad for Yuppies we will see at Whole Foods?

Until leaving the nest, jumping spiders suckle spider milk from their moms,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 29, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Spider Milk!
“...some baby jumping spiderlings are entirely dependent on nutritious spider milk secreted and fed to them by their mothers. What's more, spider mothers continue to care for and feed their offspring the nutritious milk-like fluid - which contains nearly four times the protein of cow's milk - into their subadult lives and long after they're able to forage on their own.”

8 Spider Tits?
“...the possibility that long-term, milk-provisioning maternal care may be more common in the animal kingdom than previously believed.”

Spider Maternity
“While lactation-like provisioning is known elsewhere in the animal kingdom, the intensity and duration of associated parental care is uniquely mammalian and thought to increase fitness by providing the opportunity for offspring to learn behaviors crucial for survival.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

All Starlight EVER Measured Through Time’s Foggy Lens

 

ASTROPHYSICS PHUN

Let There be Light. Lots of Light

All Starlight EVER Measured Through Time’s Foggy Lens

Clemson scientists measure all of the starlight ever produced by the observable universe,
Clemson University, November 29, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

The Great Fog
“...gamma rays (the most energetic form of light) and their interaction with the extragalactic background light (EBL), which is a cosmic fog composed of all the ultraviolet, visible and infrared light emitted by stars or from dust in their vicinity.”

How Thick
“...using Fermi's Large Area Telescope data to analyze the extragalactic background light. Starlight that escapes galaxies, including the most distant ones, eventually becomes part of the EBL. Therefore, accurate measurements of this cosmic fog, which have only recently become possible, eliminated the need to estimate light emissions from ultra-distant galaxies.”

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