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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Video IIa: Spring Snow Backpacking trip, Round Lake to Showers Lake, June 6, 2010

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Spring in the Sierras 

Rifts great and small are opening up in the snow cover. Intense streams have cut fantastic shapes through their snow covers as they hurry down the mountain, while the meadow snows are suffering a different fate.

Run off from the mountains surrounding Meiss Meadow is flowing under the great sheets of snow covering the meadow, first undercutting, then collapsing the snow on the meadow.

Showers_Lake_Frozen_Spring 2010
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Video I: Spring Snow Backpacking trip, South Upper Truckee to Round Lake, June 5, 2010

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 This video takes us from the snow free trail head on South Upper Truckee Road up to Round Lake on June 5, 2010.. Round Lake sits about 5 miles South of the trail head at 8000 feet.

We ran into trails running like streams about a mile and a half up from the trail head, and hit the snow line about two miles past the trail head.

The Snow is heavier, at lower elevations, and persisting later into Spring than typical.

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Video: Spring Snow Scouting trip past Carson Pass, June 5, 2010

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 Scouting the Carson Pass prior to backpacking there from the South Upper Truckee Road trail head. This video will give you a view of snow conditions at Carson Pass on June 5, 2010. Late season storms had deposited significant snow the previous week.

The snow line was at 7500 feet on North facing flanks, and 8000 feet on Southern facing flanks. I expect everything but Northwestern faces to be melted off by June 24, at the latest. Continuing high temps may speed this up.

The heavy snow conditions in the High Sierras in early June are depicted by the following videos:

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Spring Backpacking Scouting Trip: Meiss Country Roadless Area: June 6 through 11, 2010

Part I: The Eastern Sierras

After the first leg of our June Scouting Trip from Walker Ca, through the Little Antelope Pack Station trailhead at Rodriquez Flat, to Sonora Pass was truncated by the heavy runoff through Murry Creek at Falls Meadow on the East Fork of the Carson River, we turned around and worked our way back to the Eastern Sierra trailhead where we had begun.

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Kennedy Canyon Trail Junction Options, from the Southern flank of Leavitt Peak

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Looking South down at the Kennedy Canyon trail junction from the Southern Flank of Levitt Peak. 

Southbound backpackers have the option of continuing South, over Big Sam into the Emigrant Basin. For backpackers continuing South to Tuolumne Meadows, you will cross the Emigrant Basin to enter Yosemite through Bond Pass, below which you will rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail in Jack Main Canyon. Let's check out the maps and trail guide.

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July Open Thread: High Sierra Trail Condition Reports

Have you had recent experiences along the Sierra Crest and flanks between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney? Do you live or work in a location that gives you a view of the High Trails? Post your experiences and observations below.

We are all interested in how quickly  the snows are uncovering the trails, trail conditions, bits of snow cover along the trail, MOSQUITO CONDITIONS, fording conditions, weather, local weather, and anything that you observed or experienced.

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May 31, 2010: Current Backpacking Trail Conditions in the High Sierras at Sonora Pass

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May 31 2010 finds the Sierra Crestline where it comes across Sonora Pass heavily impacted with snow. The snow at Sonora Pass, elevation 9640 feet, measured nine feet.

Sonora Pass May 31, 2010.

Sonora Pass May 31, 2010.

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The Spring Thaw: Opening the Summer Backpacking Season, June 2010

 I just returned from a nine day late Spring scouting trip to the Central and Northern High Sierras yesterday, the 9th of June. Because of the rapidly changing conditions in the Sierras, this report is a kind of moving snapshot of those changing conditions.

The Sonora Gap, where the PCT heads South from Sonora Pass

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Scouting Report: Spring Review of High Sierra Backpacking Conditions, Late May-Early June

It is May 29, and I'm sure all of our thoughts are turning towards the High Sierras, wondering when the trails will open up for this Summer's backpacking season. Mine certainly are. Though it is late Spring, the Sierras are still packed full of snow at high altitudes. The sun appears to be coming out, and the temps are rising.

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Opinion polls underestimate Americans' concern about the environment, Stanford study finds

Opinion polls underestimate Americans' concern about the environment,  May 12, 2010, Stanford 

This article acts as a bit of a decoder of just one of the corporate media's many tools, in this case the poll, which are used by our dishonest corporate media to twist  public perception about the degraded state of our environmental resources.

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Backpacking Food Favorite is good for you: Eating nuts 'lowers cholesterol'

Backpacking food. Nuts are one of the most concentrated nutritional sources for their weight in the backpacker's food bag. And according to this recent research by the Loma Linda University, they are good for you too.

Check out this article in the BBC: 

Eating nuts can lower cholesterol, say expert, BBC, March 10, 2010

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Report: Exercise no danger for joints

 This article points out that moving about is good for your joints. Reciprocally, not moving about is bad for you. You could do yourself a lot of good by finding the proper balance between work and rest.


Exercise no danger for joints

jan 2009, Journal of Anatomy, abstract from EurekAlert.net

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Environmental Destruction: The Trees are Dying

 Backpackers should be concerned. Tree mortality in the Western United States, including the Sierra Nevadas, is accelerating at an alarming rate. Green forests are turning brown. Read the following, and weep. Then act.


Climate change causing demise of lodgepole pine in western North America 

Oregon State University

Public release date: 28-Feb-2011


Earlier Reserach

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Study: Contaminent Levels High in Parks

 Is there anywhere on this planet, no matter how remote and unvisited, that has not been altered by man? I think not. Our meta changes to the environment, as well as our distribution of toxics through the Air and Water, means that there is no place left pristine in the wake of our activities.

This article adds a dimension to how you should view even the most remote wilderness areas as deeply connected and affected by our behavior.



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Backpacker Health News: Running a marathon halts cellular suicide

 This interesting article abstract adds to the growing body of information pointing to the conclusion that regular hard exercise, such as long distance backpacking, and the training to maintain mountain fitness, is very good for you. The health benefits of staying active are contrasted by the health degradations of sedentary behaviors.

This may be good news for those of us who have maintained 20 miles a day for extended periods along the High Sierra Crest.

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Backpacking: Cold Water Survival Reference, Yukon Man

 Backpacking Survival: Cold Water and self rescue from frozen lakes. Resources and References. Great information link to Yukon Man's cold water survival page. Check out the first video on Yukon Man's Cold Water Survival page. Also links to TahoetoWhitney frozen lake escape account.

Yukon Man's Cold Water rescue and survival videos and information

Escape from Round Lake


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Spring Snow Survival Issues in the High Sierras: Weak Ice, Soft Snow, and Spring Runoff

High Sierra Winter temperatures have been rising for quite a few years now. During mid-Winter this has created a softer, wetter environment. This softer snow has made Winter travel more difficult, and the wetter snow makes for wetter backpackers, which makes it more difficult to retain warmth.

Rather than experiencing snow so cold that it is "dry," recent high Winter temperatures have made for soggy, and even wet experiences. Wet snow is much more dangerous than dry snow for Winter Backpackers.

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Oceans Emptied as Populations Soar

Fishing fleet working 17 times harder than in 1880s to make same catch, University of York, April 10, 2010

As the fish stocks, as well as water resources, energy, and arable land have been consumed, our population has soared.

This indicates that the trail  we are on, the trail of unlimited growth in people, enhanced by the unlimited growth of consumption, is reaching its natural limits, which brings the philosophical basis of our growth into question.

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Environment Research from Purdue: Too hot to backpack?

This research from Purdue explores the outer limits of the reach of global warming. This is a bit refreshing, as the scientists studying short and long term global weather changes have consistently misjudged the nature of the problem, while simultanously underestimating the problem itself.

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