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

Moon Morphology and Geology: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been sticky icon



Moon Impact Image
Planetary Demolition Derby
Moon Impact Image, Planetary Demolition Derby, NASA/JPL-Caltech.
New research suggests the stark difference between the Moon’s heavily-cratered farside and the lower-lying open basins of the nearside were caused by a wayward dwarf planet colliding with the Moon in the early history of the solar system, thanks to NASA/JPL-Caltech.*


Moon: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

Giant Impact Caused Difference Between Moon's Hemispheres,
American Geophysical Union, May 20, 2019.


Very Different Faces of the Moon
"...stark difference between the Moon’s heavily-cratered farside and the lower-lying open basins of the Earth-facing nearside has puzzled scientists for decades."

GRAIL Gravity Survey
"Measurements made by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission in 2012 filled in more details about the structure of the Moon..."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Star, Supernova, & Neutron Star Collision Element Production sticky icon




Star, Supernova, & Neutron Star Collision Element Production

Supernova 1987a
 NASA/CXC/SAO/Penn State/D. Burrows et al.; Optical: NASA/STSci; Millimeter: NRAO/AUI/NSF.
Supernova: Engines of Heavy Metals and Mothers of Neutron Stars. Chandra X-Ray Obs Composite image of Supernova 1987a.


118 known elements
How they Came to Be


Periodic table
Elements #2 through 25 forged in stars. Their fuel, Element #1, was created in the Big Bang.


Light Weight Stars
Create Series of Elements in their Nuclear Furnaces
Starting with #1, Stellar Element Production is Limited to Iron, #26

Alex Wierbinski's picture

F&W Service Extends Comment Period on Proposed Delisting of Gray Wolves sticky icon



Rare Californian: Adult gray wolf
Adult gray wolf in Lassen National Forest, July 2018. Photo by T. Rickman, USFS.
Happy Boy! Adult gray wolf in Lassen National Forest, July 2018. Photo by T. Rickman, USFS. More rare Ca Gray Wolves.


Gray Wolf
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Short-Changing Gray Wolf

F&W Service Extends Comment Period on Proposed Delisting of Gray Wolves

Service Extends Comment Period on Proposed Delisting of Gray Wolves

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is re-affirming the success of this recovery with a proposal to remove all gray wolves from protection under Endangered Species Act (ESA)."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending by 60 days the public comment period on a proposed rule to remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act."


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019 Glacier Point Road Opening May 10th sticky icon



Glacier Point Update, May 17: Closed Through Sunday, May 19, 2019

Glacier Point Update, May 14: Glacier Point Road Closed for Storm of 5-15

All High Sierra Road Info

Through the Snowy High Sierra
Through the Snowy High Sierra  Driving to Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, June 2010
Driving to Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, June 2010


Yosemite Road News & Status of Trans-Sierra Highways

Glacier Point Road in Yosemite National Park to Open for the Season on Friday, May 10, 2019,
Yosemite National Park, May 8, 2019.

Main Points

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Rapid Degradation of West Antarctic Ice Underway sticky icon



Antarctic from Space
From Big Ice Hole research, beautiful image from NASA Scientific Visulation Studio
From Big Ice Hole research, beautiful image from NASA Scientific Visulation Studio


Rapid Degradation of West Antarctic Ice Underway

Study finds 24% of West Antarctic Ice is now Unstable,
American Geophysical Union, May 16, 2019.


"In only 25 years, ocean melting has caused ice thinning to spread across West Antarctica so rapidly that a quarter of its glacier ice is now affected, according to a new study."

"Antarctica's ice sheet has thinned by up to 122 meters in places, with the most rapid changes occurring in West Antarctica where ocean melting has triggered glacier imbalance. "

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Status & Evolution of the High Sierra Spring Thaw of 2019 sticky icon

High Sierra Spring of 2019
Evolution of Conditions

Page Started
March 30, 2019

May 18, 2019



A Heavy Snow Year

May 16 2019
Moderate Precip Falling
123% of Average Snowpack


May 1 2019
143% of Average Snowpack


Middle of APRIL 2019
161% of Average Snowpack

End of MARCH 2019
161% of Average Snowpack

Alex Wierbinski's picture






of the


Northern Pacific GeoColor
The Last 11 Hours over the Northeastern Pacific
New GOES-17, "West," last 11 hours over the North Pacific GeoColor View by NOAA.

 Also See
NE Pacific Water Vapor

Alex Wierbinski's picture

May 2019 High Sierra Storm Activity to Recharge High Sierra Snow Pack sticky icon



A, "Spring Recharge," is Underway...

Highly Unusual Sequence of Winter-Like Storms Headed for California (In late May!),
Weather West, May 14, 2019.


End of Dry-Warm Strecth
"A very warm April and relatively warm start to May–coupled with rather dry conditions throughout the state during that period–will come crashing to an end tomorrow."

"...perhaps even downright stormy, conditions are expected across most of California over the next 10 days or so."

PCT & Widespread Effects
"...highly unusual nature of widespread significant rainfall (and mountain snowfall) this late in the season will likely catch a lot of folks by surprise, and will have some substantial impacts for the agricultural sector and those traveling (not to mention those poor souls just starting out on the Pacific Crest Trail)."

Get Ready to Rumble
"Widespread soaking rains will arrive across the northern half of California tomorrow, and will continue on and off for the next 10-12 days. Significant rainfall is also possible across much of southern California, although that will more likely come from subsequent systems."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019 Murder on the Appalacian Trail sticky icon



Crazy on the AT in Virginia, One AT hiker Killed, One Injured,

Knife attack prompts precautions on Appalachian Trail,
WHSV TV, May 14, 2019.

Judge orders psych evaluation for Appalachian Trail suspect,
WHSV TV, May 13, 2019.

Updated Below


Weird Dude
"...the past couple of weeks, hikers along the Appalachian Trial had been warning each other about a hiker who was threatening other hikers with a large knife."

"The man, who had the trail nickname of "Sovereign," was arrested in North Carolina last month after some hikers reported him to authorities."

"James Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder. During his initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, a judge ordered him to be held in custody and to undergo a psychiatric evaluation."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire sticky icon



During the Donnell Fire
Bringing Water to Fire

FEO Engine 344 on Groveland Ranger District, by Josiah Dewey.
Photo by Josiah Dewey, FEO Engine 344 of Groveland Ranger District. More.


Aftermath of the Donnell Fire

Stanislaus National Forest, Recent Forest Orders,
Stanislaus National Forest. Alerts & Notices.

Donnell Fire

Donnell Fire Timeline

Donnell Fire Initial Report

Evolution of the Donnell Fire


Stanislaus National Forest
Extensive Areas in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area Closed
Many National Forest Road Closures due to Donnell Fire



Alex Wierbinski's picture

May 2019 Owens Valley-Mount Whitney Mosquito Warning sticky icon



In California, Now…
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Wiki. Image by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. "...Originally found in tropical and subtropical zones, but now found on all continents except Antarctica, " Wiki. Image by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.


East Flank Preps for Skeeter Onslaught: Are You Ready?

Officials bracing for the mosquito invasion,
Sierra Wave, May 9, 2019.


2019 a Potentially Heavy Mosquito Season
"...a joint communication from the Mono County Health Department and the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program (OVMAP): Big snow years can mean big mosquito seasons and we are expecting some bugs!"

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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


May 20, 2019








High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature

, 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.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

INDEX: ALL Mosquito and Tick News and Information for High Sierra Backpackers sticky icon

Tick and Mosquito
News, Information
Aedes Aegypti Feeding, James Gathany - CDC.
Mosquitoes are a major issue in the High Sierra,

ticks less so the higher you go.

Aedes Aegypti Feeding, by James Gathany of the CDC.


May 9, 2019




Also See
Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts:
Backpacking the High Sierra


Cayenne's picture

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

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

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

High Sierra Spring Snow Backpacking II: Round Top to Round Lake Coyote, June 8, 2010

Spring Backpacking

Coyote Video, Meiss Country Roadless Area,
Tahoe to Whitney, YouTube.


Next Video: Spring Snow Backpacking trip, Round Lake to Showers Lake, June 6, 2010

South Tahoe Basin & Roundtop Review
These are two of the many videos I took of a grand snow shoe loop from Meyers to Showers Lake, from Showers Lake out of the Lake Tahoe Basin to Round Top Lake, then back into the Basin via Round Lake to exit the snow at Meyers, where we first started.

Spring Fun
This was a delightful Spring Snow backpacking trip, full of fun navigation challenges, route finding, terrain reading, and other Spring Snow delights.

On the fourth day, as we were working our way from Meiss Meadow down to Round Lake, I heard a coyote coming through the underbrush, and even caught a glimpse of her before she heard or saw us.

I signaled for complete stop and silence, then pointed to my estimated point of emergence from the underbrush of the coyote, who soon popped through the spot I anticipated.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Spring Snow May 2011: Doc's trip from Little Yosemite Valley to Sunrise Lakes

Doc sent us this report and photos about his Late May Spring Snow trip from Little Yosemite Valley up to Sunrise Lakes and back. Doc's original goal was Tenaya Lake, but the storm held him a little short. Disgression is the better part of valor!

Doc's trip began on Thursday the 26th, and was turned back by the weekend storm we experienced on the 28th and 29th.

This report will inform Pacific Crest Trail hikers as well as early season John Muir Trail hikers as to the deep snow at elevation in the Sierra Nevada.

Here's Doc's Report:


Well, this old fart did make it to Sunrise.

Day 1: Started the hike on Thursday and camped a couple miles up from the Clouds rest junction on the jmt, along Sunrise Creek.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Peter's Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Report June 2014

Upon the first publication of this report on June 8th 2014 Peter had just completed an early season snow-hiking trip along the Classic Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route. At that time he sent us very valuable information about early season conditions early in the season, which we first put up here on June 8 of 2014.

This information is not only valuable for backpackers trying to ascertain the conditions along the unmaintained segments of the trail, but also preps backpackers for the difficulties and challenges of hiking and navigating the Sierra Crest and backcountry through Spring snow conditions.

Though the particular stage of Spring conditions Peter describes transpires at a different times during each season's unique progression from Winter to Summer conditions, Peter well describes mid-to-late Spring conditions in the High Sierra.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Hobbitbook 2013 Trail Report: Summit City Creek along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Route

Hi Alex,

I had a great trip through Summit City Ck canyon last week... its BEE-OO-TEE-FUL! Wow, what a gem.

Finding the trail was just fine, probably because I was expecting the worst from your website description.

People had left many cairns to follow, and it seemed like a number of folks had been there already this year, leaving their trails to follow through bracken and undergrowth, including the enchanted forest.

The trail has a real personality, very playful, and it loves big trees. There were plenty of those in the enchanted forest - wow, what an incredible place. It feels so ancient in there.

I did want to report that someone left their mark in nail polish along the trail: On the Horse Creek signpost: "Danger Not Horse Safe," "Lost the trail 2.5 mi," "GPS needed"

Horse Canyon trail junction marred by Finger Polish Lady, Summer 2013.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

July 2015 TYT Unmaintained Trail Update: Clarks Fork Trailhead to Saint Marys Pass Trailhead

Video embed: 
See video

Tropical storm brings heavy hail, lightening to Saint Marys Trailhead, just below the Sierra Crest, July 8 2015.


Status Update

MAY 2019
Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire


Post-Storm July Tropical Sunset
Fine tropical-influenced sunset from Clarks Meadow hiking the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail in July of 2015
  From the North Edge of Clarks Fork Meadow along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.

Clarks Fork Trailhead 
Saint Marys Pass Trailhead
Highway 108
11.25 miles along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
 The Iceberg, sitting across Iceberg Meadow from the Clarks Fork Trailhead at the end of Clarks Fork Road.
Above: The Iceberg sitting across Iceberg Meadow from the Clarks Fork Trailhead at the end of Clarks Fork Road.

July 2015 TYT Status Report
The Trail

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Trip Report: Rich, Scott, & Melika report on Unmaintained Clarks Fork of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, 2016

June 18, 2017


Status Update

MAY 2019
Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire



Tahoe to Yosemite Trail


Unmaintained Trail Report


This Report:
Section Hiking the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

This Section

Lake Alpine to St. Mary’s Pass

Trip Start Date 
August 7, 2016

The Team:
Rich, Melika and I were dropped off by my wife at Silver Creek Trailhead near Lake Alpine on August for a 7 day trip up to St. Mary’s Pass. We can't do these trips without family support crews. Thanks to all!

Meet The Team

Rich and Scott after route-finding their way South to Saint Marys Pass Rich and Scott found their route up the untrailed Tahoe to Yosemite Trail to Saint Marys Pass.
American Farmers

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