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

Nicotine-Based Poisons affecting the Home Lives of Bees


Nicotine-Based Poisons affecting the Home Lives of Bees

Bees on the brink,
Harvard University, November 8. 2018.


In-the-Hive Behaviors Affected
"...a study that shows exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides - the most commonly-used class of pesticides in agriculture - has profound effects on a host of social behaviors."

Less Socially Effective Bees
“...following exposure to the pesticide, bees spent less time nursing larvae and were less social that other bees. Additional tests showed that exposure impaired bees ability to warm the nest, and to build insulating wax caps around the colony.”

Widespread Use
"These pesticides first came into use around the mid-1990s, and are now the most commonly-used class of insecticide around the globe.”

In the Bee Food, Too
“...the problem is they also show up in the pollen and nectar bees are feeding on.”

Outside Behavior Affected, Too
“Over the past decade...a number of studies have linked pesticide exposure with disruptions in foraging.”

"Foraging is only a part of what bumblebees do."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Thoughts on the Composition of Spacetime


What's the Nature and Rules of this Playground we're Playing In?

Let's Ask Ski !

Spacetime -- a creation of well-known actors?
The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences, November 8. 2018.


"What is spacetime? The absolute, unchanging, ever- and omni-present arena of events? Or perhaps it is a dynamic creation, emerging in some way on a certain scale of distance, time or energy?"

"Are space and time separated from matter, creating a “container” for motions and events occurring with the participation of particles, as Democrit proposed in the 5th century BC? Or perhaps they are attributes of matter and could not exist without it, as Aristotle suggested a century later?"

"In quantum mechanics, events take place in a rigid arena with uniformly flowing time. Meanwhile, in the general theory of relativity, matter deforms elastic spacetime (stretching and twisting it), and spacetime tells particles how to move."

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Fish Rapidly Shifting Ranges following Rapid Temp Changes


Fish Rapidly Shifting Ranges following Rapid Temp Changes

Warming waters caused rapid -- and opposite -- shifts in connected marine communities,
Cell Press, November 8. 2018.


"Two connected marine ecosystems--the Eastern English Channel and Southern North Sea--experienced big and opposite changes in their fish communities over a 30-year period”

“Rapid warming drove smaller ocean fishes to shift abruptly northward from one ecosystem to the other."

Warming Disrupting Fishing Grounds
“...increase in the frequency and severity of climate oscillations and extreme warming events could trigger shifts in the distribution and abundance of species with profound consequences for the way ecosystems around the world function.”

"This warming caused an abrupt change in fish communities as small, rapidly maturing fishes, particularly pelagic fishes, simultaneously decreased in the English Channel and increased in the North Sea,."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Changing Climate Increasing Predation Removing Reasons for Long Arctic Bird Migrations


Nest Predation to test Value of Arctic Bird Migration?

Climate change flips the global pattern of shorebird nest predation,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 8. 2018.


“Once a haven for breeding shorebirds worldwide, nest predation in the Arctic has been on the rapid rise, putting global populations at increased risk.”

“The results suggest that disruptions in historic patterns of predator and prey are driven by global climate change.”

“Historically, predation rates for birds that breed nearer to the equator are higher than those for birds who breed nearer to the poles. As a result, many birds have adapted strategies to ensure the survival of their offspring, including migrating thousands of miles, away from the tropics, to rookeries in Arctic areas.”

"...explore the global impacts of climate change on patterns of nest predation by assembling a database of over 38,000 individual shorebird nests from 237 populations.”

“They report that overall rates of nest predation have been on the rise for the last 70 years.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Florida Monarch Butterflies dropped 80 percent since 2005


Long Disaster tied to Human's Glyphosate & Climate Effects Disrupting Milkweed

Florida monarch butterfly populations have dropped 80 percent since 2005,
Florida Museum of Natural History, November 8. 2018.


Radical Decline
"A 37-year survey of monarch populations in North Central Florida shows that caterpillars and butterflies have been declining since 1985 and have dropped by 80 percent since 2005."

"...decrease parallels monarchs' dwindling numbers in their overwintering grounds in Mexico."

Milkweed Connection
"This study shows the tight connection between monarchs and milkweed and highlights very dramatic losses in abundance in Florida that further confirm the monarch is declining."

Herbicide Glyphosate & Milkweed
"...shrinking native milkweed populations and a boost in glyphosate use in the Midwest are part of the problem."

"...is lethal to milkweed, the monarchs' host plant."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018: Free Press Failure puts 5 Major Crops In Crosshairs Of Climate


NPR-PBS Lead the Overpopulation-Offshoring Charge
that broke our Environment, while Dissassociating itself from Consequences-Responsibility

5 Major Crops In The Crosshairs Of Climate Change,
NPR, October 25, 2018.


"Climate change is coming like a freight train, or a rising tide."

"Here are five foods, and food-growing places, that will see the impact."

"...the country where the impact may be greatest also is among least well-equipped to cope with a shortfall. India is likely to see a large drop in wheat production due to heat stress — about 8 percent if average global temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius..."

"...wheat may not be in short supply in a warmer world. Russia, which is already a major wheat exporter, may be able to expand the amount of land devoted to this crop."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Genetics has Limited Influence on Longevity



Another Use of “Public” Genetic Databases

We’ve Got Your Number...&...What’s Your Number?

Family tree of 400 million people shows genetics has limited influence on longevity,
Genetics Society of America, November 6, 2018.

Main Points

Previous Estimates of 15 to 30%
“Heritability is a measure of how much of the variation in a trait--in this case life span--can be explained by genetic differences, as opposed to non-genetic differences like lifestyle, sociocultural factors, and accidents. Previous estimates of human life span heritability have ranged from around 15 to 30 percent.”

A Private, Corporate Effort…
“Ruby's employer, Calico Life Sciences, is a research and development company whose mission is to understand the biology of aging. They teamed up with scientists from the online genealogy resource Ancestry, led by Chief Scientific Officer Catherine Ball, to use publicly available pedigree data from Ancestry.com to estimate the heritability of human life span.”

Their Object of Study
“Starting from 54 million subscriber-generated public family trees representing six billion ancestors...”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Moths Survive Bat Predation through Acoustic Camouflage Fur


Why are Some Insects Furry?

Moths survive bat predation through acoustic camouflage fur,
Acoustical Society of America, November 6, 2018.


Bat Food
“Moths are a mainstay food source for bats, which use echolocation (biological sonar) to hunt their prey.”

Moth Stealth Coating
“...some moths have evolved ears that detect the ultrasonic calls of bats, many types of moths remain deaf. In those moths, Neil has found that the insects developed types of "stealth coating" that serve as acoustic camouflage to evade hungry bats.”

38% Survival Advantage
"The thorax fur of moths acts as a lightweight porous sound absorber, facilitating acoustic camouflage and offering a significant survival advantage against bats." Removing the fur from the moth's thorax increased its detection risk by as much as 38 percent.”

But Not the Butterflies…
“...found that thoracic fur determines acoustic camouflage of moths but not butterflies.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land


Our Behavior is Equal to, or Worse than Pissing in our Own Drinking Water

Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, November 6, 2018.


Pharmacy in the Creek
“Sixty-nine pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in stream insects, some at concentrations that may threaten animals that feed on them, such as trout and platypus.”

Flying from Creek into Wider Ecosystem
“When these insects emerge as flying adults, they can pass drugs to spiders, birds, bats, and other streamside foragers.”

Global Drugging of Man & Nature
“Pharmaceutical pollution is present in surface waters globally. Drugs enter the environment because most wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to remove them from sewage. Septic tanks, aging pipes, and sewer overflows contribute to the problem.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Ancient Black Hole Engine of Life & Death: Abell 2597




Ancient Engines of Life & Death
Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. Credit ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tremblay et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/Chandra; ESO/VLT.
Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. More...ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tremblay et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/Chandra; ESO/VLT.


Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory,
Infalling and Outflowing Gas Give More Complete Understanding of the Evolution of Galaxies,
National Radio Observatory, November 6, 2018.


A Lively Supercluster
"A billion light-years from Earth lies one of the universe’s most massive structures, a giant elliptical galaxy surrounded by a sprawling cluster of other galaxies known as Abell 2597. At the core of the central galaxy, a supermassive black hole is powering the cosmic equivalent of a monumental fountain, drawing in vast stores of cold molecular gas and spraying them back out again in an ongoing cycle."
(For nine billion years. see CHANDRA main points, below.)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Eighteen Years to the End of the Line for the Massive B-15 Iceberg

UPDATE on the B15 Series of Mega-Bergs
Just Look at that old Mega-berg...
Space Station view of B15T on September 23, 2018, with South Georgia Island to its NW, thanks to NASA!
NASA Space Station view of B15T on September 23, 2018, with South Georgia Island to its NW

It's still almost as large as South Georgia Island, well, at least it's still on the same scale as South Georgia, and dwarfing the South Sandwich Islands to its East & Southeast, even after floating around for 18 years...

B15T Nearing the End of the Line

A Place Where Icebergs Go to Die,
NASA Earth Obsevatory, October 31, 2018.


Canada's BAS PDF Antarctic Map



Earlier Report


Eighteen Years to the End of the Line for Massive Iceberg

Born in 2000, B-15Z Finally Gonna Bite the Dust

End of the Journey for Iceberg B-15Z?
NASA Earth Observatory, June 6, 2018.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Climate Change Triggering Return of New, & Eradicated Mosquitos & diseases


It’s Already Happening...

Could climate change trigger the return of eradicated mosquito-related disease?
University of Bath, November 5, 2018.


New Ranges
“The largest ever study of the mosquito evolutionary tree, going back 195 million years, suggests that present-day climate change could result in the spread and return of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases to new places or areas where they had previously been eradicated.”

Return of the Classics
“...– including malaria, Yellow fever, Zika virus, and Dengue fever – cause millions of deaths each year. While many of these diseases have been eradicated from Europe and are under control in other parts of the world, resurgence is always possible.”

Bonus for the Skeeters
They Like Heat AND CO2
“...the rate at which new species of mosquitoes evolve generally increases when levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are higher. This is concerning because the greater the number of mosquito species, the more potential exists for new ways of vectoring diseases, and perhaps for new variants of those diseases.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Health Effects of Dairy, Salt, Sugar, and Now Protein Consumption Revised-Clarified


Dairy, Salt, Sugar, and Now Protein Consumption Clarified

Researchers show that a high-protein diet does not affect kidney function,
McMaster University, November 5, 2018.


“...challenges the perceived dangers of a protein-rich diet, a notion first introduced in the 1980s which suggested processing large amounts of protein leads to a progressive decline in kidney function over time. ”

“Researchers analyzed data from 28 papers dating from 1975 to 2016, examining the effects of a low/normal protein intake versus higher protein diets on GFR in health individuals. ”

“...the impact of protein on kidney function is much more contentious, particularly its effect on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is a test to measure how well the kidneys filter blood and remove waste. ”

Opposite is True
“...in fact, the evidence shows the contrary is true: higher protein increases, not decreases, kidney function.”

"With these findings, we have shown that a higher protein diet is safe. In fact, it should be viewed as an important tool for muscle health across an entire lifespan."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Pretty Pretty Gavin Newsom: How Our Financial-Political-Social Aristocracy Works


How Our Financial-Political-Social Aristocracy Works

How eight elite San Francisco families funded Gavin Newsom’s political ascent,
LA Times, September 7, 2018.


on the
Creation, Care, and Feeding of Our Corporate Elite

Pretty-Pretty Gavin Newsom


Gavin Newsom, like his father before him, is a footsolider in the Getty Political Family/Machine.

This article shows us how our corporate elite, “groom,” corrupted politicians as a pedeophile grooms children. Except, in this case, both of the participants are the worse kind of criminals.
These are the criminals who assault the very nature of our political principals, who show that many American’s love of our country and its most fundamental democratic principals are far weaker than their love of money and their love of themselves. Pretty Pretty Gavin and the Getty Machine are those kind of people, the, “better,” kind of people who's vast wealth earns them the rigth to rule over us from their palaces of superority and privilidige.

Kind of like how the Spanish elite rules over Mexico...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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


Descent of the Summer Triangle,
Rise of the Winter Circle

November 3, 2018


At Sunset today we can easily find the Summer Triangle, as its bright stars dominate the center of the sky, directly above our heads.

“Paper” Sky Map
with link to
Digital Star Wheel

Eastern Horizon
We can also observe the first rise of the Winter Circle, with the rise of Capella in Auriga out of the Northeast at Sunset, giving us our first look at the rising Winter Circle at Sunset, an event also marking out for us the beginning of the seasonal end of the Summer Triangle. By 10 pm PST we are watching Orion rise out of the East, and by Midnight we can see the full structure of the Winter Circle risen, as Sirius leading the Big Dog finally rises above the horizon, completing the Winter Circle.

Western Edge
On the other side of our Night Sky, along the Western Horizon at Midnight, we are observing Altair and Vega of the Summer Triangle poised just above the Western Horizon, with Deneb just above them, their descent almost perfectly balanced and timed with the rising bright stars of the Winter Circle rising out of the East.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Socks: Member's Favorite Backpacking Socks

Members' Favorites

Backpacking Socks

 As High Sierra backpackers display a lot of range in foot wear, so too in socks. Sock companies have reciprociated, producing a wide range of socking solutions.

A Thought: When I test and purchase my boots I bring in the sets of inserts I am going to use, along with what I figure will be the primary sock used with that boot. Summer? A medium to light sock. Winter? Heavy socks with maybe even a liner sock...


gbrahaney                               Wigwam Hiker Socks


High Sierra Backpacker's Four Season Gear List

Backpacker's Gear List: Boots & Feet


I typically bring the wool sock for the Backpacking Season. Light for Summer, medium for Spring and Fall, and heavy for Winter. Sock liners come along during some Winter trips.

I will use cotton socks during Heat Waves! They are so much more comfortable during hot conditions.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Stoves: MEMBERS FAVORITES for High Sierra Backpacking

Members Favorites

High Sierra
Backpacking Stoves

We have considerable range of selections from a wide range of fuels and gasses, delivery systems (below), wind shields and pot supports, not to mention the ability to construct a wide range of homemade alchol stoves.

I figure the benefit of some wisdom and experience will help us sort this all out, and find the stove that best suites us. Thus we poll our members for their preferences. Since we have lots of different types of members with lots of different types of goals and experiences we come up with a range of classic solutions.

Well, at least a good place for you to begin your investigation into what's the best backpacking stove for you.



Members Favorite Backpacking Stoves




Hiking 50                       BRS Ultralight

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The Existential Zone


 The Existential Zone

Research increases distance at which supernova would spark mass extinctions on Earth



“The Supernova Kill Zone,”

“The Big Rock from Space,”

along with


and Humans:

Q: Which term above is different from the others?

A: Humans. The other events were not created by will and choice, but by Nature.





Every now and again Nature kills everything on a planet, on a regular basis. This brings up important questions for an evolving life form, once they figure out death is coming for them.

The spectre of inevitable extinction, if not our typical, individual deaths, makes important the broader questions of what are we as living things, and what Nature itself is doing with Life. Nature's "big program" could be used to give some context to our individual lives by understanding what IT is doing and where IT is going, contrasted against our behavior.

tmorton23's picture

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Miles Sign

Rock Island Pass

Into the North Yosemite Backcountry

Yosemite Miles Sign at Boundary between Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness


Rock Island Pass at 10160 feet at the Top of the Hoover Wilderness sports a trail mileage sign at our entry into the North Yosemite Backcountry.


Ted Morton's

Trip Report
July 14 – 21, 2018
Bensen Lake Loop
Day Three


10,160 feet 



Rock Island Pass

Rock Island Pass Boundary, Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness



South Into Yosemite

Looking Down into Upper Kerrick Canyon from Rock Island Pass



Trail Guide

Bensen Lake Loop Detailed Map

more maps


Editor's Note

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Miles Sign
Alex Wierbinski's picture

2016 Costs of Obesity Exceeded $1.7 Trillion


Destructive Consumption Destroying Mind & Body of Mankind

Economic impact of excess weight now exceeds $1.7 trillion,
Milken Institute, October 31, 2018.


“The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population has increased steadily since the 1960s—from 3.4 percent of adults in 1962 to 39.8 percent in 2016”

Nation of Fatties
“In all, 180.5 million people—or 60.7 percent of the population ages 2 and over—were either obese or overweight.”

1.7 Trillion Dollar Overeating Problem
“The impact of obesity and overweight on the U.S. economy has eclipsed $1.7 trillion (a year), an amount equivalent to 9.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a new...report on the role excess weight plays in the prevalence and cost of chronic diseases.”

"The estimate includes $480.7 billion in direct health-care costs and $1.24 trillion in lost productivity…" (2016)

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