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, 2018: Tibet & Andes Glaciers are Going Away, so is the Water sticky icon

WATER, OCEANS, ICE

OSU Science Digging into the Quelccaya Glacier along the Andes in Peru
OSU Science on the Quelccaya Glacier in the Andes in Peru, photo credit to Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Photo Credit to OSU Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center.

 

The End of Cold: Glaciers are Going Away

Climate change leading to water shortage in Andes, Himalayas,
Ohio State University, December 17,2018.

MAIN POINTS

“Climate change could have devastating effects on vulnerable residents in the Andes mountains and the Tibetan plateau...”

Most Populous Nations
“...glaciers in both parts of the world are melting more rapidly than at any point in the last 10,000 years--mean the water supply in parts of Peru, Pakistan, China, India and Nepal will decline, soon.”

Peru
Half Ice Gone by 2100, maybe 66%
"By 2100, the best case scenario is that half of the ice will disappear. Worst-case scenario: two-thirds of it will. And you've got all those people depending on the glacier for water."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Tick News: Oh-Oh, New, Nasty-Assed Tick in Eastern US sticky icon

HEALTH & SAFETY: TICK NEWS

 

UPDATED
New Tick has Vast Range

 

ORIGINAL STORY

Oh-Oh, New, Nasty-Assed Tick in Eastern US

Asian Longhorned Tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) Asian Longhorned tick, Penn State Extension
Photo Credit: Thanks, Penn State Extension
 

Two Stories: Eew York Times & Ars Technica

 

An Invasive New Tick Is Spreading in the U.S.,
Eew York Times, August 6, 2018.

"...is spreading rapidly along the Eastern Seaboard. It has been found in seven states and in the heavily populated suburbs of New York City."

"It’s not known when or how long-horned ticks reached the United States, nor why the species is spreading so fast now."

"In theory, just one female could have produced all the long-horned ticks spreading in the country through asexual reproduction. But Dr. Egizi said she has found three mitochondrial DNA lineages, meaning at least three females arrived."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Mountain Birds Declining in Europe due to Climate & Habitat Changes sticky icon

LIVES of BIRDS

Up to 10% Decline in Mountain-Specialists
Snow bunting, a mountain-specialist whose population has declined, by Aleksi Lehikoinen of University of Helsinki.
Snow bunting, a mountain-specialist whose population has declined, by Aleksi Lehikoinen of University of Helsinki

Mountain birds declining in Europe,
University of Helsinki, December 13, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“...the abundances of mountain-specialist birds has declined by as much as 10% in the 2000s. ”

Running our of “Running” Room
“These species are also very susceptible to climate change, as global warming is reducing their liveable habitats. In principle, species may relocate further up the mountains, but closer to the top their habitat inevitably shrinks.”

Cause
It’s Us!
“...declined in line with climate change projections.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

HEALTH & FITNESS NEWS: Organic Food Worse for the Climate? sticky icon

HEALTH & FITNESS

Industrial Agriculture vs Organic
Illustration by Yen Strandqvist of the Chalmers University of Technology showing how much more effective industrial agriculture is at producing food.
Illustration by Yen Strandqvist of the Chalmers University of Technology showing how much more effective industrial agriculture is at producing food.
 

Are the Lunatics Running the Asylum?

Short Answer: Yup!

Organic food worse for the climate,
Chalmers University of Technology, December 13, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

"Organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required."

Massive CO2 Increases
“Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas. For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference – for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent...”

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

 

QUICK INDEX

FULL INDEX

 

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

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 & CORRUPTION

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.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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 17, 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

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.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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

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