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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The Ancient, Mighty Tick sticky icon

 

 HEALTH, FITNESS, MOUNTAIN SAFETY & TICKS

The Ancient, Mighty Tick

Distribution of Western Black Legged Tick...Today
Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans, Western Blacklegged Tick, credit to RRLash, CDC.
Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans
, Western Blacklegged Tick, Credit to RRLash of the CDC.


Tick Alert-Tick Alert!

As Spring and Summer Approach, We Think about How Wild the Ticks are on the Coast, and their Potential for Climbing Mountains with the returning Deer during Spring & Summer

UC research shows ticks are even tougher and nastier than you thought,
University of Cincinnati, September 25, 2017. 

MAIN POINTS

Full Time Vectors
"They can transmit the disease at any stage of their life if they get infected. It's much more common to be bitten by an adult around here. But they can pick up the disease as a larvae or a nymph as well."

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Black Hole Plasma Planet Killer Beam sticky icon

 

 Astrophysics & Astronomy News

Black Hole Plasma Planet Killer Ray
Black Hole Death Ray, G Pérez Díaz (IAC), University of Southampton.
Great visulation by G Pérez Díaz (IAC),   University of Southampton.

Scientists penetrate mystery of raging black hole beams,
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON, October 31, 2017.

Cool Black Hole Death Ray Video

 

More Interesting Nature Videos

 

MAIN POINTS

"...observations of a binary system called V404 Cygni - consisting of a star and a black hole closely orbiting each other, with the black hole feeding off matter from the star that falls through the disc..."

"They are nature's very own Death Star beams - ultra-powerful jets of energy that shoot out from the vicinity of black holes like deadly rays from the Star Wars super-weapon."

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

 

Updated
February 15, 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

 
February, 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

    HIGH SIERRA WEATHER RESOURCES

 First
Key Quick Reference 

 QUICK VIEWS of the HIGH SIERRA

 

QUICK INDEX

FULL INDEX

 

 NEW SATELLITES

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

GOES E GeoColor True Color daytime, multispectral IR at night

Alex Wierbinski's picture

February 2019 NOAA: Weak El Nino Here? To Persist? sticky icon

WEATHER TRENDS

EL Nino Conditions Rise
Sea Surface Temps of Dec 2018 compared to 1981-2010 period
Dec 2018 SST compared to 1981-2010 period, NOAA, Climate.gov, NNVL
Geo-Polar SST of El Nino Zone, NOAA, Climate.gov, NNVL

 

Weak El Nino Here? To Persist?

NOAA announces the arrival of El Nino,
El Nino likely to be weak with little influence on weather through early spring.
NOAA, Feburary 14, 2019.

More

NOAA Monthl Report, PDF

Latest NWS CPC Analysis

 

Backpacker's Weather Page
El Nino Information

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NOAA REPORTS: Atmospheric River Soaks California sticky icon

WILD WEATHER

Tropical Transport Mechanism
Feb 14 Tropical Transport Mechanism being pushed South by descending Low, NOAA.
Feb 14 Tropical Transport Mechanism being pushed South by descending Low, Credit: NOAA

Atmospheric River Soaks California,
NOAA, February 15, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Freak Extreme Weather Continues…
"...set records in parts of southern California. The National Weather Service reported 10.1 inches of rain fell Thursday at Palomar Observatory northeast of San Diego, the wettest day there since observations began in 1901."

Ca Washed by Fire Hose
"...flood warnings are still in effect from Sacramento to Redding, where more downpours are possible through Friday evening."

NOAA Wrong, or Misstating
"...these long, narrow regions of the atmosphere carry enormous amounts of moisture over thousands of miles, from as far away as Hawaii."

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UW Study: Exposure to Glyphosate in Roundup Dramatically Increases Cancer Risk sticky icon

HEALTH, FITNESS, & REGULATORY CORRUPTION

 

Scene of the Crime
The Glyphosate Molecule
 The glyphosate molecule. Credit Monsanto & Benjah-bmm27 for the image.
Credit Monsanto for glyphosate & Benjah-bmm27 & Wiki for the image.

 

We’ve Been, “Rounded-Up”

UW study: Exposure to chemical in Roundup increases risk for cancer,
University of Washington. February 13, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“Exposure to glyphosate--the world's most widely used, broad-spectrum herbicide and the primary ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup--increases the risk of some cancers by more than 40 percent...”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety? sticky icon

MOUNTAIN SAFETY & WILDERNESS ETHICS

The Folks Who Pull Us Out:
California Mountain Rescue Association

MRA met in Mammoth Lakes California to test in "Snow and Ice" for their yearly Re-Accreditation test, hosted in 2016 by Inyo County Search and Rescue. Credit Adorabutton.
MRA met in Mammoth Lakes California in 2016 to test in "Snow and Ice" for their yearly Re-Accreditation test, hosted by Inyo County SAR. Map. Photo Credit, Adorabutton, Wiki.

 

Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety?

Should we stop rescuing people in wilderness?
Adirondack Explorer, February 12, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

New York Wilderness
New York’S 288 conservation officers and 134 forest rangers participated in 346 search-and-rescue missions in 2018.

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Winter 2019 Status: Tropical Transport & Storms of February 13 sticky icon

STATUS of the WINTER of 2019

 

NASA MODIS reveals the Instantly Intense Winter of 2019
NASA MODIS reveals the Instantly Intense Winter of 2019, Credit NASA, MODIS team.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired these natural-color images of the difference a year makes; the Sierra Nevada on February 15, 2018, and February 15 of 2019. Credit NASA, MODIS team.

Also check-out MODIS, Feb 13, 2015

Scroll the Year on MODIS above to review Today's Sierra,
especially the 11th.

 

Tropical Transport & Storms of February 13

A Strong Start to Sierra Snowpack,
NASA Earth Observatory, February 13, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

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New Measure of Strength and Impacts of Atmospheric River Storms sticky icon

OCEANS, WEATHER, HEAT, & LOTS & LOTS OF WATER

 

"Atmospheric River" Smacking California
Atmospheric river hits California, more precisely, a Tropical Transport Mechanism. Credit to Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory/ VIIRS satellite
Fantastic Shot by Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory/ VIIRS satellite.

 

Tropical Transport Mechanism Quantification

New scale to characterize strength and impacts of atmospheric river storms,
University of California - San Diego, February 5, 2019.

 

CW3E Research Notice
CW3E Releases New Scale to Characterize Strength and Impacts of Atmospheric Rivers,
CW3E, February 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Words Matter
First, a few words about words.

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North American City Climates will shift Hundreds of Miles in One Generation sticky icon

THE CRASHING-SHIFTING CLIMATE NEWS

Will Shift? Will Shift Further? Has Been Moving Rapidly

 Apparent Geographic Climate Shift by 2080s
 Apparent Geographic Climate Shift by 2080s, Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
Average urban dweller is going to have to drive more than 500 miles to the south to find a climate similar to their home city by 2080. Credit to Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Interactive Geographic Climate-Shift Map

 

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation,
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, February 12, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Traveling in Place
“In one generation, the climate experienced in many North American cities is projected to change to that of locations hundreds of miles away—or to a new climate unlike any found in North America today.”

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2019 Tree Mortality Report: Forest Succession Underway, Continuing Through 2018 sticky icon

FOREST, TREES, & CLIMATE

Great Swaths of Ultra-Dry Death Cut the Sierra Forests
 UC Merced
Many trees in the Sierra have died in the past few years because of drought. From, Can our forests survive the next drought? Credit: UC Merced.

 

Forest Succession Underway, Continuing

Survey Finds 18 Million Trees Died in California in 2018,
US Forest Service, Feburary 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Tree Mortality Continues
“The USDA Forest Service announced today that an additional 18 million trees, mostly conifers, died in California since fall 2017.”

California Count
“Over 147 million trees have died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local and private lands in California since the drought began in 2010.”

Over, but Extreme Weather Continues...
“While the 2016-2017 winter officially ended California’s drought, below-average precipitation recorded in 2017-2018 slowed the recovery of the state’s surviving trees.”

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Northwestern Forest Succession Underway Under Our Changing Climate sticky icon

PLANTS, FOREST, & TREES

 Northwest Pacific Forest Composition to Radically Change

 The Coastal Range in Central Oregon
Forest from the top of Marys Peak, the highest point on Oregon’s Coast Range, Credit to OSU & Lessa Clayton
View of conifer forest from the top of Marys Peak, the highest point on Oregon’s Coast Range, Credit to OSU & Lessa Clayton for the photo.

 

This Tears the Hundred Year Plan to Shreds...

Climate modeling shows significant shifts in 21st century Pacific Northwest coastal forests,
Oregon State University, February 6, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“...changing climate in the 21st century will significantly alter the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest.”

“Vegetation is projected to change from predominantly conifer to predominantly mixed conifer and hardwood forests.”

Happening Around the World
“...the current forests can be expected to eventually be replaced by trees better adapted to future conditions.”

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

More Antarctic Lakes, Increasing Ice Shelf Instability

OCEANS, ICE, WATER & FISH: NEW THREATS EMERGING

Ice Shelf Meltwater Rock & Roll

 


Meltwater Lake Ice Rebound Mechanism
Diagram showing how a floating ice shelf bends (and may also fracture) in response to the filling and draining of a meltwater lake. Adapted from Fig 1. Banwell et al 2013. GRL.
Diagram showing how a floating ice shelf bends (and may also fracture) in response to the filling and draining of a meltwater lake. Adapted from Fig 1. Banwell et al 2013. GRL

 

More Lakes, Increasing Instability

Ice shelves buckle under weight of meltwater lakes,
University of Colorado at Boulder, February 13, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

 “...observed an Antarctic ice shelf bending under the weight of ponding meltwater on top, a phenomenon that may have triggered the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf.”

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Undersea Gases Could Superheat the Planet

ECO CRASH NEWS: NEW HIDDEN FEEDBACK THREATS DISCOVERED

Hydrate-Capped Undersea Carbon Reservoirs

 

CO2 Bubbles from Sea floor Hydrothermal Vent
CO2 Bubbles from Sea floor Hydrothermal Vent, Photo/Bob Embley, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.
Bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide float out of the seafloor at a vent on Northwest Eifuku volcano off the coast of Japan. (Photo/Bob Embley, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration)

 

Undersea gases could superheat the planet,
University of Southern California, February 13, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

What
"We know there are vast reservoirs of carbon gas at the bottom of the oceans. We know when they were disrupted during the Pleistocene it warmed the planet.“

Nasty, Icy Slurries
“...expanses of carbon dioxide and methane accumulating underwater and scattered across the seafloor. They form as volcanic activity releases heat and gases that can congeal into liquid and solid hydrates, which are compounds stuck together in an icy slurry that encapsulates the reservoirs.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Some Deep Mosquito & Malaria History: In Gondwana Land?

ANCIENT MOSQUITOES & MALARIA

100 Million Year Old Malaria-Capable Mosquito
Cretaceous mosquito in amber, photo OSU.
Cretaceous mosquito, photo credit to OSU

 

Some Deep Mosquito & Malaria History

Mosquitoes that carry malaria may have been doing so 100 million years ago,
Oregon State University, February 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

What
"...a new genus and species of mosquito, which was named Priscoculex burmanicus. Various characteristics, including those related to wing veins, proboscis, antennae and abdomen indicate that Priscoculex is an early lineage of the anopheline mosquitoes."

Old Freeking Skeeters
Gondwana
“This discovery provides evidence that anophelines were radiating – diversifying from ancestral species – on the ancient megacontinent of Gondwana because it is now thought that Myanmar amber fossils originated on Gondwana...”

"Most malaria...that infect(s) humans and other primates, is...spread mainly by anopheline mosquitoes."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Ars Technica Reviews Recent Sea Ice, Sea Level Research

OCEANS, ICE, WARMING, & MORE WATER
Refining the Ice-Melt and Sea-Level Rise Models

Looks Like at Least 24 inches by 2100

Two sea level studies have some good news, bad news,
ArsTechnica, February 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Testing the basis of a new ice analysis that called for 3 foot sea rise due to Antarctic melting alone.

How
Refining its, “...estimate of sea level rise from Antarctic ice in the mid-Pliocene 3 million years ago...”

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Greenland Ice Cores link Arctic Sea Ice Loss to Abrupt Climate Events

OCEANS, ICE, WATER, & THE PAST

 

Ancient Greenland Ice
Ancient Greenland Ice. Greenland ice cores provide a record of past climate. By British Antarctic Survey.
Greenland ice cores provide a record of past climate. By British Antarctic Survey.

 

Big Changes Here, More Coming

Arctic sea ice loss in the past linked to abrupt climate events,
British Antarctic Survey, February 11, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Sea Ice Reductions of the Past
Dansgaard-Oeschger Events
“...study on ice cores shows that reductions in sea ice in the Arctic in the period between 30-100,000 years ago led to major climate events. During this period, Greenland temperatures rose by as much as 16 degrees Celsius.”

Greenland Can Rise +16C in Less than a Decade…
“...sea ice changes were massively significant in past climate change events in the North Atlantic. These periods, called Dansgaard-Oeschger events2, are some of the fastest and largest abrupt climate changes ever recorded. During some of these events, Greenland temperatures are likely to have increased by 16 degrees Celsius in less than a decade.”

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