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

Observing the Celestial Sphere, Dec 2018: Comet 46P/Wirtanen & The Geminids TONIGHT


Observing the Celestial Sphere TONIGHT

Comet 46P/Wirtanen & The Geminids
Tonight, December 14


Comet 46P/Wirtanen

See a Passing Comet This Sunday,
NASA, December 14, 2018.


46P/Wirtanen at perihelion,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.


DATA: comet 46P/Wirtanen,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.



Geminids Reaching Peak Tonight

Geminid meteor shower,
In the Sky, December 13, 2018.



In the Sky

2018: Descent of the Summer Triangle, Rise of the Winter Circle



Star Maps & Charts

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Two Twin Tunnels Articles: Water & Growth, Another Arena of Extreme Political Corruption



LATEST UPDATE: Third Article, below, Added
December 10, 2018

Delta Stewardship Council Hurdle Derails Devils Straws

A Temporary Reprieve


Delta tunnels won’t get green light before Gov. Brown leaves office. What will Gavin Newsom do?
Sac Bee, December 7, 2018.


Dead for Now!
“...the Department of Water Resources withdrew its petition to the Delta Stewardship Council to have the project deemed in compliance with what’s known as the the Delta Plan, a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put protection and restoration of the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary’s eco-system on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.”

“Without the council’s green light, the $16.7 billion project, known officially as California WaterFix, can’t go forward.”

“Now they have to go back to the drawing board and prepare a new certificate.”

“it’s hard to see how these issues could be fixed quickly.”

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Spider Babies Like Spider Milk


Spider Babies Drink Spider Milk

The Next Health Food Fad for Yuppies we will see at Whole Foods?

Until leaving the nest, jumping spiders suckle spider milk from their moms,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 29, 2018.


Spider Milk!
“...some baby jumping spiderlings are entirely dependent on nutritious spider milk secreted and fed to them by their mothers. What's more, spider mothers continue to care for and feed their offspring the nutritious milk-like fluid - which contains nearly four times the protein of cow's milk - into their subadult lives and long after they're able to forage on their own.”

8 Spider Tits?
“...the possibility that long-term, milk-provisioning maternal care may be more common in the animal kingdom than previously believed.”

Spider Maternity
“While lactation-like provisioning is known elsewhere in the animal kingdom, the intensity and duration of associated parental care is uniquely mammalian and thought to increase fitness by providing the opportunity for offspring to learn behaviors crucial for survival.”

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All Starlight EVER Measured Through Time’s Foggy Lens



Let There be Light. Lots of Light

All Starlight EVER Measured Through Time’s Foggy Lens

Clemson scientists measure all of the starlight ever produced by the observable universe,
Clemson University, November 29, 2018.


The Great Fog
“...gamma rays (the most energetic form of light) and their interaction with the extragalactic background light (EBL), which is a cosmic fog composed of all the ultraviolet, visible and infrared light emitted by stars or from dust in their vicinity.”

How Thick
“...using Fermi's Large Area Telescope data to analyze the extragalactic background light. Starlight that escapes galaxies, including the most distant ones, eventually becomes part of the EBL. Therefore, accurate measurements of this cosmic fog, which have only recently become possible, eliminated the need to estimate light emissions from ultra-distant galaxies.”

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Two 2018 HEALTH & FITNESS Articles: Global Decline & Rising American Mortality

HEALTH & FITNESS: Global & American Decline

Two Articles of Declining Health

1> Warming, and Bad Air Damaging and Killing Millions

      Bottom Line

2> US Life Expectancy’s Continued Decline



1>DEATH from the Skies

Pollution and Warming: Coal Killing the Planet & its People

Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths,
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, November 29, 2018.


“...shows that rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing us to an unacceptably high health risk and warns, for the first time, that older people in Europe and the East Mediterranean are particularly vulnerable to extremes of heat, markedly higher than in Africa and SE Asia.”

Death from the Skies
“...ambient air pollution resulted in several million premature deaths from ambient fine particulate matter globally in 2015, a conclusion from IIASA researchers confirming earlier assessments.”

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ARRIVAL of the WINTER of 2019

ARRIVAL of the WINTER of 2019

Current Progress, Comparisons, and the Arts of Prognostication

Warm North Pacific
The anticipated El Nino is not happening, so far at least, as cool water continues to surface off the central-Western coast of South America. But, we are having what appears to be a, "Northern El Nino," with abberant warm waters persisting in the Gulf Alaska, and generally warmer than normal water spread all around & across the North Pacific. Weird...

Tracking El Nino

Nonetheless, we’re looking a lot better this year than last, having 108% of a normal snowpack on December 5th this year, compared to the 23% of average on December 29th of 2017.

Last year’s snowpack total came in at 58% of average, only being preserved, and luckily, being stretched-out to human-use sufficiency, by the cool temps and late-season storms we experienced through last year's Spring.

Will we get so little snow, and be so lucky with its timing, this year as we had last year?



Tracking El Nino

Tracking Tropical Activity

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Chinese Doc makes Genetically-Modified Humans


Re-Manufacturing Mankind

'CRISPR Babies' Scientist Just Defended His World-Shattering Research in First Public Appearance,
Science Alert, November 28, 2018.


“He Jiankui, the Chinese researcher who claimed this week to have helped produce the world's first genetically altered babies, said Wednesday there was another "potential pregnancy" involved in his study...”

“...he had successfully altered the DNA of twin girls while they were embryos to make them resistant to HIV infection, the Stanford-trained bioengineering professor said he felt "proud" of his work and its implications for public health in the face of nearly universal condemnation.”

“...31 embryos created through in vitro fertilization, and 70 percent were successfully edited.”

“...raised the prospect of a future in which parents produce "designer babies" with selectively improved traits such as intelligence or strength.”

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Two Articles: Did Camp Fire Violate PGE Probation, and, Was Camp Fire a State Crime?


Two Articles:
Did Camp Fire Violate PGE Probation,
Was Camp Fire a State Crime?


1> Did Camp Fire Start because PGE Violated Their Criminal Probation?

2> Oh-Oh! Dim Attorney General Xavier Becerra Ordered to Investigate Major Dim Donor



Did Camp Fire Start because PGE Violated Their Criminal Probation?

Judge Asks PGE First

Judge in San Bruno criminal case demands answers from PG&E on cause of Camp Fire,
Sac Bee, November 27, 2018.


“...Judge William Alsup in San Francisco told PG&E to explain whether “reckless operation or maintenance of PG&E power lines” started a wildfire — and whether that might constitute a violation of the terms of the utility’s probation.”

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Strange Negative Mass Fluid explains Cosmological Constant, Dark Matter, & Dark Energy?


Strange Negative Mass Fluid explains Cosomological Constant, Dark Matter, & Dark Energy?

Bringing balance to the universe: New theory could explain missing 95 percent of the cosmos,
University of Oxford, December 5, 2018.


Theoretical Achievement
“...may have solved one of the biggest questions in modern physics, with a new paper unifying dark matter and dark energy into a single phenomenon: a fluid which possesses 'negative mass'.”

Negative Mass
“If you were to push a negative mass, it would accelerate towards you. This astonishing new theory may also prove right a prediction that Einstein made 100 years ago.”

“Our current, widely recognised model of the Universe, called LambdaCDM, tells us nothing about what dark matter and dark energy are like physically. We only know about them because of the gravitational effects they have on other, observable matter.”

Dark Fluid
'We now think that both dark matter and dark energy can be unified into a fluid which possesses a type of 'negative gravity', repelling all other material around them. Although this matter is peculiar to us, it suggests that our cosmos is symmetrical in both positive and negative qualities.'

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FISH NEWS: End of Spring-Run Chinook Draws Near


No Genetic Reserve in Fall-Run Salmon Populations

Human actions impact wild salmon's ability to evolve,
University of California - Davis, December 4, 2018.


Near Extinction
“...spring-run chinook are on the brink of extinction in most locations where they haven't already been lost.”

Sensitive to Everything Human
"...because they rely on clean, cold water throughout hot summer months, spring-run chinook are more vulnerable than fall-run chinook" to activities such as logging, mining, dams and water diversion, and to climate change.”

“Once spring-run chinook salmon disappear, they are not likely to re-emerge, indicates genetic analysis of the revered wild fish in a study led by the University of California, Davis.”

"If you lose the spring-run gene, you could potentially lose spring-run chinook forever.”


Bottom Line

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2018: Huge Alaska Quake & Swarming Aftershocks


Huge Alaska Quake & Swarming Aftershocks
USGS topo map of Alaska earthquake of December 2018.
USGS Topo Map

First images of slope failures triggered by the M=7.0 Alaska earthquake,
AGU, December 1, 2018.


"The M=7.0 Alaska earthquake on 30th November 2018"

“...it was comparatively deep (41 km).”

“...much of the area affected had limited potential for large-scale landslides due to the low relief topography:”


Wild series of aftershocks:



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The Corporate Growth Machine of Death Recognized by Citizens

SUM of all FEARS: Why our Environment & Country are Crashing

Government Corruption & Environmental Destruction

The Corporate Growth Machine of Death Recognized by Citizens

Government corruption tops 5th annual Chapman University survey of American fears,
Chapman University, October 18, 2018.


“...2018 survey revealed that government corruption remains Americans' primary concern, and the state of the environment, which for the first time represents fully half of Americans' top 10 fears.”

"Americans' Top 10 Fears in 2018 (percentages include those who answered afraid or very afraid):

    1. Corrupt government officials (73.6 percent)
    2. Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (61.6 percent)
    3. Pollution of drinking water (60.7 percent)
    4. Not having enough money for the future (57 percent)
    5. People they love becoming seriously ill (56.5 percent)
    6. People they love dying (56.4 percent)
    7. Air pollution (55.1 percent)
    8. Extinction of plant and animal species (54.1 percent)
    9. Global warming and climate change (53.2 percent)
    10. High medical bills (52.9 percent"


Bottom Line

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment


Lots of Bad Climate News, Effective Solutions Unaddressed

Fourth National Climate Assessment,
Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, November 2018.


Summarized Below

12 Summary Findings

5 Sections of Overview

4 Chapters


News Analysis


Dry And Getting Drier: Southwestern Water Scarcity The New Norm, Climate Study Says,
KUNC, November 27, 2018.

The articles above and below explore the contempoary Water Threats identified by 4th National Climate Assessment. 


Comprehensive Government Climate Report Warns That Warming Planet Threatens U.S. Water Security,
Circle of Blue, November 23, 2018.

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More Coordinated Global-Scale Heatwaves in Our Future


More Coordinated Global-Scale Heatwaves in Our Future

Study shows regions increasingly suffer hot, dry conditions at the same time,
Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences , November 28, 2018.


Coordinated Climate Chaos
“...the kind of hot, dry conditions that can shrink crop yields, destabilize food prices and lay the groundwork for devastating wildfires are increasingly striking multiple regions simultaneously as a result of a warming climate.”

“...we find that before anthropogenic climate change, there were very low odds that any two regions would experience those really severe conditions simultaneously,"

Four Times More Often
"...that before 1980, there was less than a 5 percent chance that two region pairs would experience extreme temperatures in a year that was also dry in both regions. However, in the past two decades, the odds have increased to as much as 20 percent for some region pairs."

Heatwave Heaven
"So, what used to be a rare occurrence can now be expected to occur with some regularity, and we have very strong evidence that global warming is the cause."

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Climate Research, 2018: Extreme Heat Expanding with the End of Cold


Extreme Heat Expanding with The End of Cold

Extreme heat increasing in both summer and winter,
American Geophysical Union, November 26, 2018.


Hotter Hots-Warmer "Colds"
“A new study shows extreme heat events both in the summer and in the winter are increasing across the U.S. and Canada, while extreme cold events in summer and winter are declining.”

Scope of Study
“...examined absolute extreme temperatures--high temperatures in summer and low temperatures in winter--but also looked at relative extreme temperature events--unusually cold temperatures and unusually warm temperatures throughout the year.”

Extreme Heat Rising Radically
“...both relative and absolute extreme heat events have increased across the US and Canada since 1980. This upward trend is greatest across the southern US, especially in the Ozarks and southern Arizona, as well as northern Quebec. That means there are more extremely hot days during the summer as well as more days that are considered extremely hot for the time of year, like abnormally warm days in the winter.”

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Global Warming Increases the Risk of an Extinction Domino Effect


Interdependence of Ecosystems Could be Our Ultimate House of Cards

Global warming increases the risk of an extinction domino effect,
European Commission Joint Research Centre, November 28, 2018.

An extinction domino effect is already underway.


“...there are many elusive drivers of species loss that go beyond the direct effects of environmental change (and human activity) which we still struggle to understand.”

“...it is becoming clearer that co-extinctions (the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources) could be a major culprit in the ongoing biodiversity crisis.”

“...predictions that fail to take into account this cascading effect might underestimate extinctions by up to 10 times.”

The Test
“...constructed 2000 "Virtual Earths", which they populated with thousands of plants and animals organized into a global system of inter-connected food-webs.”

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Water News: Colorado River in Decline LA Must Shrink Now


Water News

Colorado River in Decline

LA Must Shrink Now

Rising temperatures sucking water out of the Colorado River,
KPCC, October 31, 2017.

Colorado River  in Decline

Ironically, the radical changes in the behaviors of snow, water, temps, seasons, and river flows we've observed over the last thirty years, and are continually experiencing up and down the Sierra & Rocky Ranges, are the direct consequences of exactly the same type of irresponsible growth and development that built LA, a city that’s been supported since its inception by stealing vast amounts of Colorado River water.

And, stealing everyone else's water they can get their grubby hands on.

The growth "process," the corruption and irresponsibility, that created the presence and activities of LA puts at risk the very water LA needs to live!

The ongoing growth process that created, and is fueling growth in LA today, puts at risk the two most important things we all need to live: Mutual Trust & Water. LA's cheating, irresponsible, corrupt inception, and its current trajectory of dishonorable growth destroys both.

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STUDY: Greenhouse Gasses Triggering More Changes Than We Can Handle


Massive Climate Study Finds Massive Climate Problems

Greenhouse gasses triggering more changes than we can handle,
University of Hawaii at Manoa, November 19, 2018.


"...one of the most comprehensive assessments yet of how humanity is being impacted by the simultaneous occurrence of multiple climate hazards strengthened by increasing greenhouse gas emissions."

467 Highways to Hell
16 Named Below
“...analysis of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers reveals 467 ways in which human health, food, water, economy, infrastructure, and security have been impacted by multiple climatic changes including: warming, drought, heatwaves, wildfires, precipitation, floods, storms, sea level rise and changes in land cover and ocean chemistry.”

Expect Extremes
resulting in drought, wildfires and heatwaves in normally dry places, or massive rain and floods in commonly wet areas.

Multiplex of Hazards
“...greenhouse gas emissions can aggravate simultaneously multiple climate hazards.”

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American Groundwater Overestimated, at Risk from Fracking and Climate Changes


American Water at Risk as Climate Changes

US groundwater in peril: Potable supply less than thought,
University of Arizona, November 18, 2018.


“The U.S. groundwater supply is smaller than originally thought.”

Fracking Dangers
"We show that there is potential for contamination of deep fresh and brackish water in areas where the oil and gas industry injects wastewaters into -- or in close depth proximity to -- these aquifers."

Groundwater Dependent US
"Groundwater is the primary source of domestic water supply for about half of the people living in the U.S. About 40 percent of all of the water used in the U.S. for irrigated agriculture comes from groundwater...In Tucson, Arizona, about half of our drinking water comes from groundwater."

New Fresh Water Limits
“The new research found the average depth of transition from fresh to brackish groundwater in the U.S. overall is about 1,800 feet, which contradicts previous studies suggesting that fresh groundwater extends down to 6,500 feet. ”

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Oceans, 2018: Microplastics Everywhere, Even Falklands, Ascension Is, & Southern Ocean


Microplastics Everywhere

Microplastics pollution in Falklands as high as UK,
Anglia Ruskin University, November 27, 2018.


“The first study to investigate microplastics around Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands - two of the most remote locations in the South Atlantic Ocean - has found levels of contamination comparable with the waters around the UK.”

"Identifying the source of microplastics is difficult, but some of the fibres found in this study had the appearance of weathered fragments of ropes or fishing nets. The Falklands have a relatively sizeable fishing industry, with an annual catch of around 270,000 tonnes per year, but the same cannot be said of Ascension.“

Microplastics Everywhere
"Ascension Island has a population of less than 1,000 people and is incredibly remote, located 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa and 1,400 miles from South America. However, we found levels of microplastics comparable, and in some cases greater, than levels found in the waters around mainland UK.“

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