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






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

Climate Warming Directly Responsible for 400% Increase in California Fires sticky icon



Recent Extreme Warming
The years 2014-2018, averaged on this map, were the warmest years in the modern record, NASA.
The years 2014-2018, averaged on this map, were the warmest years in the modern record compared to GISTEMP's 1951-1980 baseline. The areas in red experienced warmer than normal temperatures, while the areas in blue were cooler than normal during this period. NASA, Big.


Climate Warming Directly Responsible for 400% Increase in California Fires

Rising Global Temperatures Influence California’s Fire Season,
NASA Earth Observatory, August 30, 2019.

Read the Research


Increasing Fire
"...the annual burned area across California has increased fivefold over the past five decades, and the main driver is higher temperatures."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Massive 2019 Blob Forms sticky icon



Comparing The Blobs of 2014 & 2019
Comparing Blobs of 2014 & 2019, NOAA Sea Surface Temperatures, Big Maps.
NOAA Sea Surface Temperatures representing the 2014 & 2019 Blobs, Big Maps.



Marine Heat Wave Returns to the Northeast Pacific,
NASA Earth Observatory, September 12, 2019.


Massive 2019 Blob Forms

New Marine Heatwave Emerges off West Coast, Resembles "the Blob,"
NOAA Fisheries, September 5, 2019.


Current & Recent
Sea Surface Temperatures
(Scroll up for El Nino Information)



Alex Wierbinski's picture

Grim New Model Updates 2007 Model Run: Nuke War Still Bad News sticky icon


Princeton's, "Plan A," Nuke Destruction Video Report & Coalition of Physicists



Big Nuke Exchange
Big Nuke, Image FEMA,  ready.gov.
Kiss your ass goodby, Image FEMA, ready.gov. Big Image.


Grim New Model Updates 2007 Model Run: Nuke War Still Bad News

Nuclear Winter Would Threaten Nearly Everyone on Earth,
Rutgers University, August 28, 2019.


Modern Modeling
"...modern climate model to simulate the climatic effects of an all-out nuclear war between the United States and Russia."

End of Summer
"If the United States and Russia waged an all-out nuclear war, much of the land in the Northern Hemisphere would be below freezing in the summertime, with the growing season slashed by nearly 90 percent in some areas..."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Imelda & Harvey: 2 Hundred Year Storm-Floods in Three Years?! sticky icon



Two Hundred Year Storm-Floods in Three Years?!

Tropical Storm Imelda & Hurricane Harvey

Two Reports Second


Tropical Storm Imelda's flooding turns deadly as southeast Texas is swamped by rain,
Texas Tribune, September 19, 2019.


Imelda vs. Harvey
"It dropped more than 41 inches in some areas, compared with Harvey's highest rainfall total of 60.8 inches."

"...Interstate 10 was closed because of flooding."

“I’ve seen water over rooftops,...I’ve seen vehicles stalled out. Man, it’s kind of like the Harvey deal all over again.”

"Many parts of Houston and southeast Texas still have not fully recovered from Harvey. And areas that didn’t flood in that catastrophic storm were hit hard by Imelda."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Three Billion Fewer Birds in North America since 1970 sticky icon



Bye, Bye Birdie!

Nearly Three Billion Fewer Birds in North America since 1970,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, September 19, 2019.


Count & Amount
"North America has lost nearly three billion birds since 1970...details widespread population declines among hundreds of North American bird species, including those once considered abundant."

Ignored Disaster
"...a long-developing yet largely overlooked biodiversity crisis occurring in avifaunal habitats across North America."

Bird Crash
"Given the current pace of global environmental change, quantifying change in species abundances is essential to assess ecosystem impacts."

The Study
"...analyzed the net change over recent decades in numbers of birds for 529 species in the continental United States and Canada."

2.9 Billion Birds Gone
But we have Cheap Labor, & Cheap Consumer Crap!!
"Their results show a loss of nearly one in four birds since 1970 - a net loss of 2.9 billion birds."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA: Assessing the Global Climate, August 2019 sticky icon



NOAA: Assessing the Global Climate, August 2019

August Second Hottest Month Ever

Assessing the Global Climate in August 2019,
NOAA, September 16, 2019.


Second Warmest August in Historical Record

August: The Second Hottest for August in the 1880–2019 Record; The Differences
August 2019 against averages from 1880 to 2019.
Global Status
"The August temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.66°F above the 20th century average of 60.1°F and tied with 2015 and 2017 as the second highest for August in the 1880–2019 record. The five warmest Augusts have all occurred since 2014. August 2016 is the warmest August on record with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average of 1.76°F." Big Map.

Long Series of Records

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Approaching Fall, 2019 Early Season Snow sticky icon


Weather Wise

Approaching Fall, 2019
Implications & Context of Early Season Snow

Trends Breaking
The previous 6 years prior to the Winter of 2017 accelerated the long trend of earlier and earlier Spring Thaws bookended by later and later Fall storms. The trend of later and later Fall storms has finally been broken this year.

Long & Short
I was observing this trend of expanding Summers and shrinking Winters for over fifteen years when this long, slow lengthening of Summer and the reciprocal shortening of Winter accelerated into the epic drought of 2012-2019.

I did not count the drought over in 2017 when most did, which was good, because of the dry Winter of 2018 that followed. I did not consider the drought over until we actually had two very wet years out of three, after the wet Winter of 2019.

July 2017
The Drought Never Ended

Tree News 2018, Tree Mortality Continues: The Drought "Gone but not Over?"

April 2019
The Great Drought is Over

Alex Wierbinski's picture

September of 2019 All High Sierra Backpacker, Hiker, Outdoors, & Nature News Index sticky icon


September 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

2019 Season High Sierra Fire, Smoke, and Mountain Safety Information sticky icon










All Federally Managed Fires
Parks, Forests, and Federal Lands


Inciweb has been downgraded in services and quality by their redesign. For a list of National and California Fires, now see:


NATIONAL INTERAGENCY FIRE CENTER, note fire lists by states...


All California Managed
State Fires

Managed Fires

CALFIRE Incident Information 



Alex Wierbinski's picture

Carol Crooker Trip Report Desolation Wilderness Lollypop Loop. sticky icon

Carol Crooker Trip Report
Desolation Wilderness Lollypop Loop.
Member Profile


Trip Statistics
Lower Echo Lake North PCT
to Middle Velma Lake.
West to Camper Flat.
South to Lake Aloha,
PCT to Lower Echo Lake

Distance & Duration
40 miles in 9 Days
June 9 to 18, 2015

Temps and Weather
33 degrees and the highest was 83 degrees

Starting Pack Weight
About 32 pounds

Trail Guide Resources 
Desolation Wilderness Map

Detailed Map of Carol's Route

Trail Guide
Lower Echo Lake Trailhead

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit


Alex Wierbinski's picture

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



May 29 & June 17, 2019
Donnell Lake and Crabtree Trailhead Closures ADDED

May 23, 2019
Forest Closure Order Modification,
North & East Carson Iceberg Wilderness Opened, Half TYT still Closed



During the Donnell Fire, August 2018
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.

The Donnell Fire

Donnell Fire Timeline

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, briefly up through the beauties of Seavy Pass before plunging down into what I call, "The Bensen Hole," only to make the precipitiously steep climb back out past the beauties of Smedberg Lake and finally over Bensen Pass, on our way back to Twin Lakes where we split off the PCT-TYT in the bottom of Matterhorn Canyon, North, to climb up through Matterhorn Canyon through Burro and Mule Passes, from the point where the PCT-TYT begin their climb East out of Matterhorn Canyon to Miller Lake, on our way back to our starting trailhead at Twin Lakes.

Check out Tim's fine description of this classic High Sierra hike, accompanied with the maps, mileages, and his excellent images of this challenging route below...

Time & Distance

Eight Nights

Around 54 miles


All Photos


Trail Guide

Barney Lake in the Hoover Wilderness
Alex Wierbinski's picture

Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking: Crabtree to Gem Lake, Deer Lake, and More sticky icon

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness

A fantastic  4 day Backpacking Trip into the Emigrant Wilderness from trailhead East of Pinecrest Lake near Highway 108.

Status Update

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


Peter describes food resources there and back, roads, fishing, trail culture and terrain descriptions that make this a fantastic description of a fantastic backpacking trip.

Trail into Emigrant Wilderness from Crabtree Trailhead.
 Backpacking Trail into Emigrant Wilderness through Crabtree Trailhead

Thanks to Peter and Jason for sharing this!

Emigrant Wilderness NF PDF

All Tahoe to Whitney MAPS
Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking Maps


Emigrant Wilderness Trailheads NF PDF

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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

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

Peter's Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Report June 2014 sticky icon

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

Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety? sticky icon


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.
I'm Seeing Red! 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.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Watch Out for the Green Water: Blue-Green Algae News and Safety Information sticky icon

Watch Out for the Green Water

Toxic Algal Bloom
Blue green algae in Klamath River, credit to OSU.
Toxic Microcystis algae grow in a large bloom in the Copco Reservoir on the Klamath River, posing health risks to people, pets and wildlife. Go Beaves, credit to OSU!


It's that time of year again, as Spring turns into Summer and our extraordinarily warming waters present increasing blue-green algae threats.

The Basics
Do not drink, or allow your animals or children to drink from or play in water containing cynobacteria, otherwise known as toxic blue-green algae. Review the Blue-Green News just below and the safety information at the bottom of this page:

Blue-Green Algae Safety and Identification Information


September 16 Late Summer Report...
Winter snow standing deep into Spring, & Temprate Summer Temps, brought minimal Green Water to the High Sierra (and California) this year.


High Sierra Water Quality Articles

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

Brazil Mosquitoes Defeat Genetic Manipulation



Aedes aegypti
Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can cause yellow fever. (James Gathany - CDC - PHIL, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons)
Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can cause yellow fever. UC Davis scientists developed a map of where flaviviruses — those spread by mosquitoes and ticks — are likely to emerge. (James Gathany - CDC - PHIL, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons)


Screwing with Nature Blows Up in Brazil's Face...

Failed GM mosquito control experiment may have strengthened wild bugs,
New Atlas, September 12, 2019.


(Disputed Research)

Cause & Effect
"One of the most innovative ideas to control populations of the bugs has been to release genetically modified male mosquitoes that produce unviable offspring. But unfortunately a test of this in Brazil appears to have failed, with genes from the mutant mosquitoes now mixing with the native population."

The Experiment
"Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were genetically engineered to have a dominant lethal gene."

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