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

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.



Alex Wierbinski's picture

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.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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


Alex Wierbinski's picture

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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BAD WATER: Who did it?

High Sierra Backpacker's Water Information:

This article explores who is polluting the water in the Sierras with nasty microbes.

Coliform bacteria in Sierra Nevada wilderness lakes and streams: what is the impact of backpackers, pack animals, and cattle? Derlet RW, Carlson JR. (Wilderness Environ Med. 2006 Spring;17(1):15-20.) 

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Reducing the impact of summer cattle grazing on water quality in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California: a proposal.

High Sierra Backpacker's Water Information:


Reducing the impact of summer cattle grazing on water quality in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California: a proposal, Derlet RW, Goldman CR, Connor MJ. (J Water Health. 2010 Jun;8(2):326-33. Epub 2009 Nov 9.) 

Dr. Derlet's proposal is ending high elevation grazing in the Sierra Nevada.

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John Muir Trail Water quality in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

High Sierra Backpacker's Water Information:

Information on water quality for John Muir Trail backpackers

Surface water quality along the Central John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains: coliforms and algae, Ursem C, Evans CS, Ger KA, Richards JR, Derlet RW. (High Alt Med Biol. 2009 Winter;10(4):349-55.)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpacker Environmental News: Livestock waste found to foul Sierra waters

High Sierra Backpacker's Water Information:

For all of us who have backpacked long and hard to reach a beautiful lake, and found it surrounded by cow-pies, and the water a greenish, foul smelling gunk, this article based on research by Dr. Derlet at UC Davis, is no surprise.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Environment News: Biodiversity Target Missed, World Fails to Slow Loss of Animals, Plants

Biodiversity Target Missed: World Fails to Slow Loss of Animals, Plants

Quotes from article:

"Published today in the journal "Science," the assessment compiling more than 30 indicators that measure different aspects of biodiversity such as changes in species' populations and risk of extinction, habitat extent and community composition."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Link to an Excellent resource for ropework and knotting

The TahoetoWhitney YouTube Channel was subscribed to by Atzlanz. I checked out his channel, which indicated that Atzlanz was a skilled student of the Art of Knotting and Ropework. His channel led to his website, which I found to be a valuable resource for all things knotty.

Having basic rope skills is an important backpacking skill.

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Great Nine Minute video of the John Muir Trail!

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 This is the John Muir Trail...in Nine Minutes! This is an excellent glimpse of life down the whole trail by surfbum188 on YouTube. Watching this gets me excited to get on the long trail.

Many thanks to surfbum and crew...

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Introduction to Backpacking Food by AnalyticalSurvival

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 Hey backpackers.

I found this informative video introduction about backcountry food on Analytical Survival's YouTube channel. Though an introduction, this video presents a good context to get you started on thinking about and selecting food items suitable for backpackers.

The rest of the series offers excellent advice on food selection, as well as many personal reviews of products that will save you lots of time and trouble.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpackers: Post your images, trip notes, and videos from Carson Pass to Tuolumne Meadows for inclusion in the Trail Guide!

High Sierra Backpackers: See your pictures and videos on the Best High Sierra Backpacker's website and trail guide on the Web

I am currently deeply engaged with putting together the trail guide section that covers the trails between the Carson Pass and Tuolumne Meadows.

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Video 5: Spring Snow Backpacking, Day 3 to Round Top Lake, Day 4 out at Carson Pass

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Snow Backpacking Trip video #6: Woods Lake to Round Top Lake, and out the next day...

After departing our lunch spot to continue down the snow-covered road towards Woods Lake, we almost immediately cross an equally snow-covered foot bridge to our left. Across the bridge we turn right, South, and begin to look for the blue diamond marked route up through the forest heading South towards Round Top. We are located  just to the East of Woods Lake.

Map embed: 

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