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

ECO-CRASH NEWS: One Politician Finally Admits 7 Degrees by 2100


One Politician Finally Admits 7 Degrees by 2100

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100,
USA News, September 28, 2018.


The US Gov's NEW Position:
“Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.”

“…issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)...”

As I’ve Said Before:
The current trajectory of the corporate growth machine of death, of endless population growth and offshoring of manufacturing has already brought us to the point of a catastrophic change in our seasonal weather patterns.

The Trump Admin is the first to admit what the Dim and Repugnant parties have not, that their shared policies of endless growth and, “globalism,” have already doomed our planet, and all the cultures on it, to catastrophic change.

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Killer New Science Video: Black Hole's Gas Lighting


Black Hole's Gas Lighting

New simulation sheds light on spiraling supermassive black holes,
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, October 2, 2018.

This research uses supercomputers to create a cool animation modeling the orbits of two supermassive black holes, a binary pair of black holes, that were brought together by an ancient collision of their two progenitor galaxies, as these gravitationally bound black holes drag the remnants of their remaining glactic dust and gas through its final forty revolutions, before merging.

Black Hole's Gas Lighting Video


Other Cool Videos

Swarming Black Holes Report


Black Hole Plasma Beam

Hubble Jupiter Video

Amazing Macrophage Porn Videos

15 Years of Arctic Ice Video

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Art: Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour


Art: Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour

Oakhurst, October 5, 6, and 7

Sierra Art Trails Preview Exhibit And Gala Reception,
Sierra News Online, September 9, 2018.



"The Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour takes place in homes, studios, galleries, and businesses in communities throughout Eastern Madera and Mariposa Counties. The show is the largest and most anticipated arts event in the area, say organizers, featuring artists and artisans working in a wide range of media including painting, photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber arts, woodcarving, ceramics and glass."

"...Sierra Art Trails as the Preview Exhibit opens at Stellar Gallery on Gallery Row — Saturday, Sept. 8. The gala reception for the event is on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 4 – 9 p.m. Everyone is invited."

"The Preview Exhibit is open to the public, featuring a representative piece by each artist in Sierra Art Trails."

"The catalog — your $20 “ticket for two” — is a collectible, full color publication that includes articles, special features, artist listings and detailed maps that guide visitors to the various Art Trails locations. This year’s catalog features cover art by Carolyn Hartling."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

HEATED CACTUS THREATENS HUMMERS: Desert Migrations Threatened by Shifted Blooming Time


Desert Migrations Threatened by Shifted Cactus Blooming Time

Ocotillos are blooming too soon, leaving migrating hummingbirds without food,
Desert Sun, October 1, 2018.


Ocotillo Cactus driven by climate change to bloom too early for migrating hummingbirds.

Traditional Bloom Timing

"...ocotillos bloomed in April and May, not in the dead of winter."

2007 Bloom Timing

Now, "...dozens of ocotillos blooming in January – months before migrating hummingbirds would arrive in the Coachella Valley."

"...Sonoran Desert shrubs, including ocotillo, began blooming nearly 40 days earlier than they did a century ago...(and)...ocotillos and other shrubs ended their bloom more than a month earlier than in previous decades. "

Change You Can Believe In

"...there would be disastrous consequences for most hummingbird species since all but one migrates through the Southwest and northern Mexico."


Massive Human Population Growth Destroying Everything...

The Hummers are Far from being Alone...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 WATER YEAR: Another Climate Changing Warmer & Drier Year


Another Climate Changing Warmer & Drier Year

Below Average Precipitation for Water Year 2018,
California Dept of Water Resources, October 1, 2018.


"Despite below-average precipitation in water year 2018, most California reservoirs are storing near- or above-average levels of water heading into the 2019 water year."


Much of Southern California ended up with half or less than half of average annual precipitation.

The April 1 statewide snowpack based on over 260 snow courses was just 58 percent of average for water year 2018, a dramatic drop from 159 percent of average for the same date in 2017.

The water year coincided with ongoing warming conditions, setting new records this summer for maximum temperatures in the South Coast region.

Water year 2018 is indicative of California’s ongoing transition to a warmer climate, which after years of extreme variability in annual precipitation, resulted in record-breaking wildfires.

More Dangers than Dryness
“While conditions overall were dry, California experienced sporadic periods of significant precipitation.”

“This event is a good reminder that floods can happen any year, even during an overall dry one.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018: Man Banned from Space by Radiation?


Man Banned from Space by Radiation?

Animal study suggests deep space travel may significantly damage GI function in astronauts,
Georgetown University Medical Center, October 1, 2018.


Cosmic Radiation
“Simulations with animal models meant to mirror galactic cosmic radiation exposure to astronauts are raising red flags...”

Serious Stomach Probs
“...deep space bombardment by galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) could significantly damage gastrointestinal (GI) tissue leading to long-term functional alterations. The study also raises concern about high risk of tumor development in the stomach and colon.”

Other Risks
“...previous work has highlighted potential impairment to brain tissue as well as accelerated aging on long space trips due to the effect of energetic heavy ions, which don't affect Earthlings due to the protective global magnetosphere.”

Current Situation
"With the current shielding technology, it is difficult to protect astronauts from the adverse effects of heavy ion radiation. Although there may be a way to use medicines to counter these effects, no such agent has been developed yet."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Taller Plants, Now Our New Climate is Thickening their Leaves


Taller, Now Our New Climate’s Thickening their Leaves

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, could worsen climate change effects,
University of Washington, October 1, 2018.


Physical Effect
“...scientists have observed that when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves.”

Systematic Effect
“...would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon, a fact that climate change models to date have not taken into account.”

“...under the high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels expected later this century...”

Thick-Leaf Loss of Plant CO2 Squester
“...leaving about 5.8 extra petagrams, or 6.39 billion tons, of carbon in the atmosphere per year.”

Scale of Squester Loss
“Those levels are similar to the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere each year due to human-generated fossil fuel emissions — 8 petagrams, or 8.8 billion tons.”

Arctic Plants are Getting Rapidly Taller


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Where’d the Martian Methane Come From? Is it Alive?


Where’d the Martian Methane Come From? Is it Alive?

Interpreting new findings of methane on Mars,
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News, September 26, 2018.


“New data from the Mars Science Laboratory demonstrating the presence of methane presents novel challenges to explain how it was formed and what it suggests about the potential for life to exist or be supported on Mars.”

“...data have revealed a baseline level of CH4 (∼0.4 parts per billion by volume [ppbv]), with seasonal variations, as well as greatly enhanced spikes of CH4 with peak abundances of ∼7 ppbv.”

“...represent in terms of interior geochemical processes, or is martian CH4 a biosignature?”

The Bottom Line

Future missions must be designed to discern the sources of methane on Mars.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

ECO-CRASHING NEWS, 2018: Scope, Depth, & Future of Global Warming Explored

The Original Article, from June 2018 is REPOSTED below,
now with an article added that was posted on Oct 1, 2018:
"Crashing through Long-Term Tipping Points."


Original Article

Scope, Depth, & Future of Global Warming Explored

What happened last time it was as warm as it’s going to get later this century?
Ars Technica, June 18, 2018.


"Like the Middle Miocene"

"The year 2100 stands like a line of checkered flags at the climate change finish line, as if all our goals expire then."

"...the climate won’t stop changing in 2100. Even if we succeed in limiting warming this century to 2ºC, we’ll have CO2 at around 500 parts per million. That’s a level not seen on this planet since the Middle Miocene, 16 million years ago, when our ancestors were apes. Temperatures then were about 5 to 8ºC warmer not 2º, and sea levels were some 40 meters (130 feet) or more higher, not the 1.5 feet (half a meter) anticipated at the end of this century by the 2013 IPCC report."

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Arctic Plants are Getting Rapidly Taller


Arctic Plants are Getting Rapidly Taller

New plants on the block: Taller species are taking over in a warming Arctic,
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, September 26, 2018.


Arctic Growth Everywhere
"The increase in height we saw was not just in a few sites but nearly everywhere."

Warming Caused
“The researchers identify climate warming as the underlying cause. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen by about 1 degree Celsius in summer and 1.5 degrees in winter over the three decades covered by the study, some of the fastest rates of warming on the planet.”

Spreading Tallness
"Taller plant species, either from warmer pockets within the tundra or from southern areas, have spread across the tundra."

Tall Future
"If taller plants continue to spread at the current rate, the plant community height could increase by 20 to 60% by the end of the century."

Time Bomb
“...the permafrost underlying tundra vegetation contains one-third to half of the world's soil carbon. When the permafrost thaws, greenhouse gases could thus be released.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

How the Great Plains Were Created


How the Great Plains Were Created

The origins of the High Plains landscape,
ETH Zurich, September 26, 2018.


“Dropping just a few hundred meters over a length of more than 500 kilometres, these plains have only a very gentle gradient and the nearly flat surfaces exhibit unique ecosystems, making them a geological and ecological anomaly.”

“...the groundwater reservoir known as the Ogallala aquifer. At 450,000 square kilometres, it is the largest aquifer in North America.”

“The High Plains were formed 20 million years ago. Earth scientists have recently discovered a zone of unusually hot material in the Earth's mantle that creates a wave of uplift that is slowly shifting from west to east under the continental plate. This wave first uplifted the Colorado Plateau, then the Rockies and finally the plains themselves. This resulted in a steeper gradient of the mountains towards the plains, accelerating erosion. For 15 million years, a massive flow of sediment poured out of the mountains, down the river valleys and into the plains.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture



How DEET Works

Scientists investigate how DEET confuses countless critters,
Rockefeller University, September 26, 2018.


“...shown that DEET acts not by repelling bugs, but rather by confusing them, messing with neurons that help the animals smell their surroundings. Moreover, the effects of DEET are not limited to insects: spiders, ticks, and many other pests also act strangely in the chemical's presence.”

“...DEET may be less of an insect repellent and more of an invertebrate confusant.”

“First developed in the 1940s, DEET can be found in most bug sprays used today. Research has shown that, in flies and mosquitoes, the chemical works by interacting with odor receptors that are unique to insects. This research, however, cannot explain how DEET exerts its effect on non-insect species.”

“The Vosshall lab previously demonstrated that DEET keeps mosquitoes away by interacting with odor receptors in a way that confuses the animals' sense of smell. ”

"The one common theme in all of these organisms is that DEET is doing something to affect odor perception--it's like sensory system sabotage.”


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Arctic Roots of Increasing Extreme Weather


Arctic Warming Increasing Extreme Weather

More persistent weather patterns in US linked to Arctic warming,
Rutgers University, September 26, 2018.


“Persistent weather conditions, including dry and wet spells, generally have increased in the United States, perhaps due to rapid Arctic warming.”

“Persistent weather conditions can lead to weather extremes such as drought, heat waves, prolonged cold and storms that can cost millions of dollars in damage and disrupt societies and ecosystems, the study says.”

“Overall, dry and wet spells lasting four or more days occurred more frequently in recent decades”

“The frequency of persistent large-scale circulation patterns over North America also increased when the Arctic was abnormally warm.”

“In recent decades, the Arctic has been warming at least twice as fast as the global average temperature, the study notes. The persistence of warm Arctic patterns has also increased, suggesting that long-duration weather conditions will occur more often as rapid Arctic warming continues.”

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Eco Crashing News: Cooking the National Parks


Cooking the National Parks

Sept. 25
Effects of Climate Change in National Parks Could Be Lessened




National parks are getting hotter and drier. What’s the outlook for 2100?
McClatchy, September 24, 2018.


Rapidly Rising Temps
“America’s national parks are warming up and drying out faster than other U.S. landscapes, threatening iconic ecosystems from the Everglades in Florida to Joshua Tree in California to Denali in Alaska.”

“...the first to examine rainfall and temperatures in all 417 national parks sites. The study also forecasts the degree that parks could become hotter and more drought-stricken by century’s end, depending on whether nations undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or continue with business as usual.”

"Catastrophic wildfires threaten Yosemite and other national parks in California. In Montana, there is online debate about whether Glacier National Park should soon rename itself, or face accusations of false advertising."

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2018: The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues


The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues

Threatened spring-run chinook salmon are sparse this year,
Chico Enterprise-Record, September 26, 2018.

Main Points

"In Butte Creek, a snorkel survey counted 2,118 fish this year."

"That’s less than half the average since 1989 of 4,427 fish."

"In 2017, only 950 fish were counted."

"The record was in 2001, when the carcass survey turned up 18,312 fish."

The carcass survey

"As a result of the lifecycle, the creeks are full of dead fish after the spawning cycle ends."

"The dead fish are also easy to count."

"...in years when there are a lot of fish, the carcass count is far more accurate than the snorkel count. But in a low year like this one, the snorkel count is probably pretty accurate."

Fish History

"The spring-run used to be the largest of the chinook runs in the Central Valley. But construction of dams like Shasta and Oroville blocked access to the higher-elevation cool water the fish need to survive the summer, and the numbers dropped."

"The spring-run is now listed as threatened on both the state and federal endangered species lists."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Valley Fever Surging in Our Drying Climate

HEALTH & FITNESS: Crossing the Valley!

Valley Fever Surging in Our Drying Climate

With climate change, Valley fever spreads in California—and this year could be the worst yet,
CalMatters, September 25, 2018.


Rising Numbers
“...reported Valley fever cases set a record in California in 2016, with more than 6,000 infections. That number jumped to 8,103 in 2017, an increase of more than a third—growth many experts link to climate change. This year could be the worst yet.”

Record Year
“...through August this year more than 5,000 cases were reported in California, putting the state on pace for a new record.”

Growing Infections
“We’re seeing double and triple the cases. It’s a catastrophic change, and it’s getting worse.”

“...about 150,000 undiagnosed cases a year.”

Silent Killer
“The most dangerous manifestation is meningitis...and by the time they go to the hospital it’s too late, and I think a lot of people die from it without ever being diagnosed.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Megacity Thieves, Grouse, and Ranchers Fight over Diminishing East Sierra Waters


Megacity Thieves, Grouse, and Ranchers Fight over Diminishing Waters

Los Angeles reduces Eastern Sierra water deliveries because of climate change. At risk, ranchers say, is a way of life,
LA Times, September 24, 2018.


Ranchers Out
“...LADWP has for seven decades provided several lessees in the area about 5 acre-feet of water per acre per year, which made their pastures nutritious through the summer and added luster to the area’s hiking, biking and angling hotspots. (An acre-foot of water equals about 326,000 gallons, more than enough to supply two households for a year.)”

“...new 20-year leases for 10 longtime ranchers in area, the department says lessees should anticipate that little to no water will be available for them.”

Grouse Lifeline

“...it would continue diverting about 1,000 acre-feet of water per year to protect the estimated 600 sage grouse in the area, a segment of a subspecies only found along the California-Nevada border.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

SKEETER TECH: Mosquito’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing


Skeeter’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing

Built-in sound amplifier helps male mosquitoes find females,
University College London, September 25, 2018.


“The ears of male mosquitoes amplify the sound of an approaching female using a self-generated phantom tone that mimics the female's wingbeats, which increases the ear's acoustic input by a factor of up to 45,000...”


Bad Dudes
“...studied three mosquito species: the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, the Zika virus and dengue carrying Aedes aegypti and the West Nile virus carrying Culex quinquefasciatus.”


The Objective
“...mate in swarms, which are typically mostly formed of males with only one or a few females entering at a time, so the males need to pick out the sound of an approaching female from the noise of surrounding males. ”


Resonant Amplification
“...investigating why the flagella (lash-like protrusions) of the male antennae (mosquitoes hear with their antennae) can vibrate spontaneously at roughly the same frequency of the female wingbeat.”


Alex Wierbinski's picture

UPDATE to STORY; “Cal to Drop Fossil Fuels by 2015;” Some Facts & Figures

Cal to Drop Fossil Fuels by 2045

Some Facts & Figures

The high cost of a zero-emission California,
Calmatters, September 24, 2018.

The Law
SB 100

Costs of "Zero Emission" California

Current Massive Usage
"Californians burn 300 terawatt-hours of juice each year, 70 percent of which is generated in-state and more than 40 percent of which comes from natural gas- or nuclear-powered plants here or elsewhere."

"...so the 127 terawatt-hours of new generation would have to come from wind, solar and/or geothermal – essentially tripling their current output."

Non-Fossil Fuel Restrictions
"...possible to build enough solar and windmill farms to do so, albeit at immense cost, but there’s a corollary problem. They mostly generate during daylight hours, so having their power available 24 hours a day would require huge amounts of storage, presumably in massive battery banks."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

New Tick Safety Strategies Required for Euro Lyme


New Tick Safety Strategies Required for Euro Lyme

Lyme disease: A study on the speed of transmission by infected ticks,
Institut Pasteur, September 21, 2018.


"...evidence of rapid bacterial transmission following a bite, with infection occurring within 24 hours of an adult tick bite and sometimes even sooner for nymph bites. This is a timely reminder of the importance of removing ticks as soon as possible after being bitten to prevent infection."

"Ticks have three lifecycle stages that can bite humans – larva, nymph and adult –, but bacteria are usually transmitted through bites from nymphs, which are higher in density and often go unnoticed because of their small size."

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