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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Air Pollution Levels tied to Levels of Aggression and Violence



When Levels of Aggression and Violence Are, "In the Air..."

Exposure to Air Pollution Increases Violent Crime Rates, Study Finds,
Colorado State University, October 3, 2019.


Bad Air
"...found strong links between short-term exposure to air pollution and aggressive behavior, in the form of aggravated assaults and other violent crimes across the continental United States."

"The CSU researchers cross-analyzed three highly detailed datasets: daily criminal activity from the National Incident-Based Reporting System managed by the FBI; daily, county-level air pollution from 2006-2013 collected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors; and daily data on wildfire smoke plumes from satellite imagery provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hazard Mapping System."

"The research results show a 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in same-day exposure to PM2.5 is associated with a 1.4% increase in violent crimes, nearly all of which is driven by crimes categorized as assaults."

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Southwestern Tree Degradations Continue, Extremes of Weather Killing on Both Wet & Dry Sides



Semi-Arid Forest Dilemma
Semi-Arid Forest Dilemma, long-term declines in tree growth, even with no change in average precipitation, Deborah Lee Soltesz/CC 1.0 Universal.
In the semi-arid forests of the western U.S., increases in rainfall extremes – wetter wet years and drier dry years – can lead to long-term declines in tree growth, even with no change in average precipitation. (Deborah Lee Soltesz/CC 1.0 Universal)


Tree Degradations Continue, Extremes of Weather Killing on Both Wet & Dry Sides

Increasing Precipitation Extremes Driving Tree Growth Reductions Across Southwest,
University of Arizona, October 2, 2019.


"In many parts of the United States, tree growth responds more strongly and consistently to dry years than it does to wet years, so increases in growth during wet years does not completely offset reductions in growth during drought."

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Rising Heat Isolated as Main Cause of Desert Bird Declines



Rising Heat Isolated as Main Cause of Desert Bird Declines

Collapse of Desert Bird Populations Likely Due to Heat Stress from Climate change,
University of California - Berkeley, September 30, 2019.


"The team that last year documented a collapse of bird communities in Mojave Desert over the last century -- 29 percent of the 135 bird species that were present 100 years ago are less common and less widespread today -- has now identified a likely cause: heat stress associated with climate change."

Earlier Research: See First Link Below

Virtual Birds vs. Real Declines
A Match
"...comparing levels of species declines to computer simulations of how "virtual birds" must deal with heat on an average hot day in Death Valley, which can be in the 30s Celsius -- 90s Fahrenheit -- with low humidity. These temperatures are, on average, 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than 100 years ago. The birds that the model predicted would require the most extra water today, compared to a 100 years ago, were the species that had declined the most in the Mojave Desert over the past century."

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Tropical Soils, Microbes, and Heat Add Up to 10% More Atmospheric CO2



Tropical Soils, Microbes, and Heat Add Up to 10% More CO2

Microbes in Warm Soils Released More Carbon Than Those in Cooler Soils,
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, September 30, 2019.


"The fate of soil carbon in response to global heating remains one of the greatest sources of un-certainty in our predictions of future climate."

"Tropical soils have a particularly large influence on the global carbon cycle and are home to unique biodiversity, but their response to warming remains poorly understood."

Not Well Modeled
".while tropical forests may have the potential to release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere as they warm, the effects of warming on tropical soils and the microbes that break down organic matter are poorly characterized."

The Experiment
"At four sites in the Peruvian Andes, Nottingham and colleagues removed soil cores from the ground. A set of cores stayed at the same site, while other cores were moved to sites either higher up the mountain (thus, cooler) or lower on the mountain (warmer), a 3,000-meter range equivalent to plus or minus 4 to 15 degrees Celsius."

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Planning and Preparing for a late Winter-Early Spring snow backpacking trip in the High Sierras

Climbing to the Headwaters of the East Fork of the Carson River, Feb 2014.
Climbing up to the Headwaters of the East Carson.

Preparing and Planning for a Snow Backpacking Trip in the Sierras

(Well, although it is Fall, the principals explored below apply to Fall as well as Spring....)

Video Prep Guide
I have constructed this four-part video guide to preparing for a High Sierra backpacking trip. Though it is designed for a Winter-first day of Spring trip, the basic principals discussed are applicable to backpacking during any season.

NOTE: Site Video Links Broken. See these Backpacking Food Prep videos on YouTube.

Factors of Success or Failure
Part one covers the range of factors you may encounter and must prepare for when backpacking in High Sierra snow. These considerations will control your preparations. These considerations are interrelated, and your measurement of each will affect the others.

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


Last Updated
September 30, 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. 

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Greatest CO2 Levels in All Human History



A Human First

Humankind Did Not Live With a High-Carbon Dioxide Atmosphere Until 1965,
Texas A&M University, September 24, 2019.


"In 1965, Earth's carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations exceeded 320 parts per million, a high-point never reached in the past 2.5 million years, this study shows."

"Humans have never before lived with the high carbon-dioxide atmospheric conditions that have become the norm on Earth in the last 60 years..."

"According to this research, from the first Homo erectus, which is currently dated to 2.1-1.8 million years ago, until 1965, we have lived in a low-carbon-dioxide environment -- concentrations were less than 320 parts per million..."

"The scientists analyzed soil carbonates from the Loess Plateau in central China, to quantify ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, as far back as 2.5 million years ago."

"Our paleosol-based CO2 estimates are in line with snapshots of early-Pleistocene CO2 retrieved from Antarctic old, blue ice, suggesting that the Earth system has been operating under low CO2 levels throughout the Pleistocene."



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Modern Record of Ocean Oxygen Depletion Tracking Ancient Lau/Kozlowskii Extinction Event



Modern Record Tracking Lau/Kozlowskii Extinction Event

Oxygen Depletion in Ancient Oceans Caused Major Mass Extinction,
Florida State University, September 1, 2019.


Lau/Kozlowskii Extinction Event

"...Late in the prehistoric Silurian Period, around 420 million years ago...a devastating mass extinction event wiped 23 percent of all marine animals from the face of the planet."

"...triggered by an all-too-familiar culprit: rapid and widespread depletion of oxygen in the global oceans."

Unknown Cause
"...there was no known, spectacularly destructive event responsible for the Lau/Kozlowskii extinction." No major meteors or volcanoes as the extinction trigger.

Why Important
"This makes it one of the few extinction events that is comparable to the large-scale declines in biodiversity currently happening today, and a valuable window into future climate scenarios,"

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Black Hole Eats Sun-Sized Star



Black Hole Eating a Sun-Sized Star
Black Hole Eating a Sun-Sized Star, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
This illustration shows a tidal disruption, which occurs when a passing star gets too close to a black hole and is torn apart into a stream of gas. Some of the gas eventually settles into a structure around the black hole called an accretion disk. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Big.


Black Hole Eats Sun-Sized Star

NASA’s TESS Mission Spots Its 1st Star-Shredding Black Hole,
NASA, September 26, 2019.


Designation of a deep space event observation, in this case observing the consumption of a star by a distant black hole.

A First
"For the first time, NASA’s planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) watched a black hole tear apart a star in a cataclysmic phenomenon called a tidal disruption event."

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Farming Overproduction in The Valley Hits the Wall with SGMA




Farming Overproduction in The Valley Hits the Wall with SGMA

California Farmers Face ‘Catastrophic’ Water Restrictions. Can They Adapt to Survive?
Sac Bee, September 25, 2019.


"...California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. Starting next January, the law will require farmers to gradually rein in the amount of groundwater they can pump from their wells."

"...groundwater. It accounts for 38 percent of the state’s total supply in a normal year, close to 50 percent or more in a dry year."

"The SGMA law (pronounced “sigma”) says groundwater basins must be brought into “sustainability” — defined as cutting consumption to the point that they’re no longer causing “chronic lowering of groundwater levels” or other “undesirable results.” To implement the law, dozens of regional groundwater agencies have been set up. The January launch has managers scrambling to figure out just how much less water their farmers will have in the future."

"It could devastate the economy of the entire San Joaquin Valley."

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Black Hole Relativistic Accretion Disk Behavior



A Black Hole’s Warped World
A Black Hole’s Warped World, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman.
"Seen nearly edgewise, the turbulent disk of gas churning around a black hole takes on a crazy double-humped appearance. The black hole’s extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disk, producing the warped image. The black hole’s extreme gravitational field redirects and distorts light coming from different parts of the disk, but exactly what we see depends on our viewing angle. The greatest distortion occurs when viewing the system nearly edgewise. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman"
Big View.


Black Hole Relativistic Accretion Disk Behavior

NASA Visualization Shows a Black Hole's Warped World,
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, September 24, 2019.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Abstract Bird Communication Skills



A passerine bird in the crow family, by Guill McIvor.
A passerine bird in the crow family. Wiki. By Guill McIvor.


Abstract Bird Communication Skills

Jackdaws Learn from Each Other about 'Dangerous' Humans,
University of Exeter, September 24, 2019.


Smart Birds
"Jackdaws can learn from each other to identify "dangerous" humans..."

Warning: Bad Humans
Jackdaws Identify & Remember You
"The jackdaws that were played a warning call on seeing a new human returned to their nest boxes more than twice as quickly (53%) on average when seeing that human again, whereas birds that heard contact calls took longer to return to their nest (63% on average)."

"Though jackdaws returned to their nests more quickly after seeing a human associated with a warning call, the calls did not appear to influence how long birds took to enter their nest box or how long they spent inside."



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Study of Ancient PETM Climate Suggests Increasing CO2 Sensivity could Accelerate Warming



We've Got to Look Deep into the Past to Find Equal Magnitudes of Change to Put Ourselves into Our Proper Historical Perspective

Study of Ancient Climate Suggests Future Warming could Accelerate,
News Network Archaeology, September 18, 2019.


Lessons of the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum

"The Early Eocene (roughly 48 million to 56 million years ago) was the warmest period of the past 66 million years. It began with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which is known as the PETM, the most severe of several short, intensely warm events." more

Geo Time Scales, Wiki.

"The Early Eocene was a time of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and surface temperatures at least 14 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer, on average, than today. Also, the difference between temperatures at the equator and the poles was much smaller."

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2019 Arctic Summer Sea Ice Reaches Second Lowest Minimum on Record


The 2019 Arctic Sea Ice Summer Minimum

Arctic Sea Ice, September 18, 2019
Arctic sea ice extent for September 18, 2019, National Snow and Ice Data. Center.
4.15 million square kilometers (1.60 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data.


Annual Downtrend of Arctic Ice Continues

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Second Lowest Minimum in Satellite Record,
NSIDC, September 23, 2019.


Tied-Second Lowest
"On September 18, Arctic sea ice reached its likely minimum extent for 2019. The minimum ice extent was effectively tied for second lowest in the satellite record, along with 2007 and 2016..."

Previous Lows
"This year’s minimum extent was effectively tied with 2007 and 2016 for second lowest, only behind 2012, which is the record minimum."

Reinforcing Downward Trend
"...reinforcing the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. Sea ice extent will now begin its seasonal increase through autumn and winter."

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



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."

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Three Billion Fewer Birds in North America since 1970



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."

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NOAA: Assessing the Global Climate, August 2019



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

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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."

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"God's" Gong Show: Merging Black Holes Ring Like Bells



Ringing Results of a Black Hole Merger
Ringing Results of a Black Hole Merger, Maximiliano Isi/MIT.
"A supersized black hole resulting from the merger of two smaller black holes. The collision has caused the black hole to ring and radiate gravitational waves (white), by Maximiliano Isi/MIT." Big Image.


"God's" Gong Show

'Ringing' black hole validates Einstein's general relativity 10 years ahead of schedule,
Simonds Foundation, September 12, 2019.


"By reanalyzing the first black hole merger ever detected, the astrophysicists measured the gravitational wave ‘tones’ emitted following the event."

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Tampa Bay is a Great Pool of Microplastics, & it is Likely Your Bay or Waterway is Too



Microplastic Sample: This is What's In Ya...
Microplastic viewed under a microscope, Cypress Hansen, University of South Florida.
Microplastic viewed under a microscope, Cypress Hansen, University of South Florida.


Great Pools of Plastic

Four billion particles of microplastics discovered in major body of water,
University of South Florida (USF Innovation), September 12, 2019.


Plastic Soup
"...estimates the waters of Tampa Bay contain four billion particles of microplastics, raising new questions about the impact of pollution on marine life in this vital ecosystem."

"...they set about counting microplastics in the region at 24 stations over a 14-month period."

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