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

Solar Charging for Backpackers

Having just received the GoPro Hero 960 I am left with having to make it useful for very long backpacking trips. The GoPro uses a cell-phone style 3.7V 1100 mAh Lithium Ion battery. 

This means that battery replacement at the resupply points down the trail is out. I must devise a solar charging set up to keep the GoPro charged up. I need to devise or buy a solar charger capable of charging the Li-Ion battery for the GoPro, as well as the AA batteries for my camera and headlamp.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Introduction: My Backpacking Cameras


I have had a mixed history of photography in the Sierra Nevada. As a kid I was focused on enjoying the experience, rather than recording it.

Entering young adulthood I adopted the philosophy requiring that you pay for what you see. Not with money, but with the personal effort required to see the beauties of the Sierra Nevada yourself.

Real people have real experiences. Consumers can choke on it. Get a life.

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A reflection of Sierra Beauty in Wood and Glass

One of my real pleasures is meeting the people who live in and around the Sierra. I find myself hitch-hiking into the Sierra to begin trips, out of the Sierra at the end of trips, and from point-to-point to resupply during trips. I meet the best people hitching the Sierra.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA: Globe had eighth warmest August on record


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 15, 2011

NOAA: Globe had eighth warmest August on record

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Safety: Survival Expert Successfully Crosses Death Valley In Summer

Video embed: 
See video

 Above: Thomas shows us his pack and gear before departing Badwater Basin at Sunset.


The Trip 

Thomas Coyne just hiked from Badwater Basin at the bottom of Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney during mid-Summer. 

This route goes from the lowest point in the US in Death Valley to the highest point in the US at the top of Mount Whitney.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Science News: Long view of Fire and Combustion

 These two notices of research into the role of fire before and after the rise of humans are informative.

Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires, National Science Foundation, Sept 15, 2011.

The international report, above, was organized out of UC Santa Barbara.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Science News: Cure of Tick Borne Diseases, Lyme Disease?

One of the blessings of the High Sierra is the lack of ticks. Ticks cannot handle the dessicated and cold conditions in the High Sierra. Yet ticks do make it into the High Sierra.

Every Spring the Deer return to the High Sierra, bringing a load of ticks up to die. After the ticks feed on the deer they drop off, or they are scraped off.

  I figure that explains the few (2) tick encounters I've had in the Sierra during my life. I figure that both tick encounters can be accounted for by deer transport.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Science News for Backpackers: GPS in the Head?

I'm not a great fan of GPS. I don't own one, use one, and I generally plug my ears and walk away singing "La-La-La" when someone pulls out a GPS on the trail.

I'll show you where we are on the map, and in the terrain.

I belive in map and compass. I belive in careful observation, sharp analysis, and experience. I believe in careful planning and measuring the elevations, conditions, and distances of my trips prior to departure.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

News: Climate Information Update Sept 2012

The reporting about the changing seasons is lagging far behind the consequences of breakdown. As our "eyes," our perceptions as a huge urban nation are turned inward, looking at our own society, we miss what is happening in the natural world around us. People who live with nature, or observe it closely, cannot miss the changes. 

Observations of Climate Change from Indigenous Alaskans, USGS, Sept 13, 2011.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

News: Drugs, Pain, and Backpacking Health and Fitness Updates

The two following articles are important for backpackers who use anti-infalmmatories, and for drug users generally. 

The first article indicates a further danger from NSAIDs, that of cancer. I strongly suggest that use of NSAIDs be episodic, and their use restricted to limited periods of time.

I deal with drug use in my injury recovery chapters of the Physical Fitness section.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Captivated by critters: humans are wired to respond to animals

Captivated by critters: Caltech and UCLA researchers find humans are wired to respond to animals, Cal Instit Tech, Sept 8, 2011.

This intriguing research measures human responces to animals below the level of consciousness, demonstrating an evolutionairly conditioned human responce to animal interaction. 

Though this research only quantifies the human responce to animal interaction, it makes me think about the role of animals in living a healthy life.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Over one-third of California teens not getting gym classes at school

Over one-third of California teens not getting gym classes at school, Sac Bee, June 1, 2011.

Nor are the kids getting art, music, or any solid foundation in math, science, or English. It's like our schools have become little more than free daycare for cheap illegal labor.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Federal judge halts Paiute cutthroat trout recovery plan

Federal judge halts Paiute cutthroat trout recovery plan, Sept 10, 2011, Sac Bee.

Entering Paiute Management Area behind the Corral Valley trailhead.

Above: Entering the Paiute Management Area via Corral Valley.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Researchers predict extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence

Researchers predict extreme summertime temperatures to become a regular occurrence, Springer, climate change letters, Sept 9, 2011


I have been watching the seasons undergo radical change during the short span of my lifetime. I'm 52.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA: U.S. experiences second warmest summer on record

NOAA Banner Title 
   NOAA Press Release, September 8, 2011

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Cell Phone Weighs Down Backpack of Self-Discovery


I had to post a link to this cool article, Cell Phones Weigh Down the Backpack of Self-Discovery by Mr. Conley at Bloomberg.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Bear Behavior: Mum, the bear is eating me & NOLS attack

This rather morbid story is out of Sibera via Australia, and describes Brown Bear behaviors which are totally unheard of in the Sierra Nevada. 

But this violent behavior is not unknown in Black Bears in Alaska, and by hungry or scared Brown Bears anywhere.

Mum, the bear is eating me: Final terrified phone calls of teen Olga Moskalyova, Daily Telegraph, au, 8-18-11


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Lingering snow poses safety risk for mountain hikers

Matt Wieser is an excellent reporter for the Sacramento Bee, and a fine observer of man and nature to boot. The heavy snows of Spring 2011 persisted through August all along the Sierra Crest.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

News-Science: Clarity of Lake Tahoe Declines

As we can understand from this article,

Clarity of Lake Tahoe declines in 2010, sac bee aug 12, 2011,

Lake Tahoe's water clarity, one of its most unique assets, is in decline and under serious pressure from existing over-development, as is almost every environmental asset in California and the whole country.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Fittness: Off the Couch, into the Mountains

This article points out that people with aching joints are not doing the best thing you can do with aching joints, which is to work them.

Instead, my fellow arthritis sufferers are decreasing activity and increasing couch time. That's the worse thing you can do, according to my experience.

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