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

Land Use, Erosion, and Climate Change's Ancient and Modern Relationship

 

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: LAND USE, EROSION, AND MORE RAIN

Is this What Happened to Summer, Ur, & Babaylon?
Is this What Happened to Summer, Ur, & Babaylon? Photo by Rick Bohn / United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Erosion caused by agriculture is a major cause of land degradation. Photo by Rick Bohn / United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Its Ancient Beginning: Massive Climate Feedback Loop Well Underway

Human Activities Boosted Global Soil Erosion Already 4,000 Years Ago,
Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS, October 28, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Ancient Land Use Erosion
"...recorded temporal changes of soil erosion by analyzing sediment deposits in more than 600 lakes worldwide. They found that the accumulation of lake sediments increased significantly on a global scale around 4,000 years ago. At the same time, tree cover decreased as shown by pollen records, which is a clear indicator of deforestation. The study suggests that human practices and land-use change have intensified soil erosion long before industrialization."

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Massive 40-50 Percent Great Barrier Reef Coral Losses

 

OCEANS AND CORAL

Measuring Massive Reef Destruction
Great Barrier Reef turning to algae.David Wachenfeld, Triggerfish Images.
Repeated disturbances from climate change and deteriorating water have changed some reefs from coral to algae. David Wachenfeld, Triggerfish Images.

 

Massive 40-50 Percent Great Barrier Reef Losses

Great Barrier Reef Island Coral Decline,
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, October 27, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

40-50% GBR Coral Declines
"A long-term study of coral cover on island groups of the Great Barrier Reef has found declines of between 40 and 50 percent of live, hard corals at inshore island groups during the past few decades."

"...the data was so alarming that they checked and re-checked it."

Locations
"...researchers surveyed coral cover on fringing reefs of the Palm, Magnetic, Whitsunday and Keppel Island groups along the central and southern Great Barrier Reef, and compared it to historical records."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Unknown Skeleton found below Mount Williamson

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Failure is Forever

APNewsBreak: Skeleton Unearthed Beneath California Peak,
AP, October 16, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Two Recent Climbers on Mount Williamson
Encountered skeletal remains, "...discovered Oct. 7 near a lake in the remote rock-filled bowl between the towering peaks of Mount Tyndall and Williamson, which rises to 14,374 feet."

Off Route Discovery
"The average person who was hiking to Williamson wouldn't have gone the route we went because we were a little bit lost, a little bit off course."

"...came upon the grisly discovery of what looked like a bone buried in a boulder field."

"...moved rocks aside and discovered an entire skeleton. It appeared to have been there long enough that all that remained were bones, a pair of leather shoes and a belt."

No Answers
"Who was the unfortunate hiker? How did he or she die? Was the person alone? Were they ever reported injured, dead or missing?"

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA Assesses the Global Climate in September 2019: Hottest September on Record

 

ECO-CRASHING NEWS

Tracking Our Devolving Climate & Weather

Assessing the Global Climate in September 2019,
NOAA, October 16, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Warmest & Wettest September Ever
Second Warmest Year to Date on Record
"...2019 tied with 2015 as the highest for the month of September in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 was the second warmest January–September on record."

Hottest Global Land & Ocean Temp Percentiles for Sept during 2019
The September temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F above the 20th century average of 59.0°F and tied with 2015 as the highest for September in the 1880–2019 record. NOAA.

Points

Hot Run
"The 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015–2019) being the five warmest Septembers on record."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The US Army Assesses What We're Up Against

 

STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE-WEATHER DESTRUCTION

Coming to an MegaCity Near You
Urban Tanks in our Climate Breakdown Future? Michel_van_der_Vegt, Pixabay.
Urban Tanks in our Climate Breakdown Future? Michel_van_der_Vegt, Pixabay.

 

The US Army Assesses What We're Up Against

Implications of Climate Change for the US Army,
Army War College. May 2019, PDF.

Our Future, According to the Army

I typically comment at the end of research. This report draws me to consider the environment in which this research was prepared.

While reading the highlights of this report, one must note that this military assessment seeks to provide information for the preparation of strategic and tactical responses not to, "climate change," but to the likely breakdown of whole countries and societies.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019 Season High Sierra Fire, Smoke, and Mountain Safety Information

 

 

 

Resources
SUMMER & FALL
BACKPACKING SEASONS
of
2019

FIRE & SMOKE INFORMATION

 

Latest
FIRE
Report---Analysis

 

Smoke & Air Quality Resources

 

ALL
FIRE & SMOKE
INFORMATION & RESOURCES

FIRE

All FEDERALLY
Managed Fires

Parks, Forests, and Federal Lands

INCIWEB 

Inciweb has been downgraded in services and quality by their redesign. For a list of National and California Fires, now see:

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Half Dome Permit Policy Safety Analysis

REPOSTED FYI

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Half Dome
From the Trail Guide
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick.
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick, Looking from just West of Nevada Falls, Guide, Map.

 

Half Dome Safety Analysis

Restricted permit-only access to Yosemite National Park's Half Dome summit, anticipated to improve hiker safety, did not,
Elsevier, June 26, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

2010 Half Dome Permit Restrictions
"Implementation in 2010 of permit-only access to Half Dome cable handrails along the final ascent of this iconic landmark reduced the number of people on the summit at one time, but this did not result in a significant reduction in the overall toll of associated human suffering and mortality, or search and rescue (SAR) activity and costs."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Let's Explore Some of the Strange, Complex Elements of Quantum Computing

 

ASTROPHYSICS, SCIENCE, & TECHNOLOGY

Schrödinger's Cat Says Quantum WHAT?
Schrödinger's cat not excited about quantum superposition, geralt, Pixabay.
Cool Quantum Cats not down with Schrödinger's quantum superposition. More. By geralt, Pixabay.

 

Let's Explore Some of the Strange, Complex Elements of Quantum Computing

Achieving Quantum Supremacy,
University of California - Santa Barbara, October 23, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

The Sycamore Quantum Computer
"...with Sycamore, 54 qubits (one didn’t perform) that take advantage of the both awe-inspiring and bizarre properties of quantum mechanics."

Quantum Supremacy
"...to perform an algorithm or computation that couldn’t be done otherwise."

"Using 53 entangled quantum bits (“qubits”), their Sycamore computer has taken on — and solved — a problem considered intractable for classical computers."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

El Nino Growing and Changing with Rising Temperatures is Only the Tip of the Problem

 

OCEANS, WARMING, RADICALLY CHANGING WEATHER, & EL NINO BEHAVIORS

Comparing the Massive 1997 & 2015 El Ninos
Comparing the Massive 1997 & 2015 El Ninos, Credit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
This visualization shows side by side comparisons of Pacific Ocean sea surface height (SSH) anomalies of what is presently happening in 2015 with the Pacific Ocean signal during the famous 1997 El Niño. These 1997 and 2015 El Niño animations were made from data collected by the TOPEX/Poseidon (1997) and the OSTM/Jason-2 (2015) satellites. More. Credit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

El Nino Growing and Changing with Rising Temperatures is Only the Tip of the Problem

Climate Warming Promises more Frequent Extreme El Niño Events,
University of Hawaii at Manoa, October 21, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The West Coast Ocean Warming Kelp, Urchin, Abalone, Starfish Disaster Continues

 

OCEANS, ICE, WARMING SEA LIFE & THE BLOB

Bull Kelp on Northern California Coast
Bull Kelp on Northern California Coast, by Peggy Foreman, NOAA Fisheries.
Man cooking the Bull Kelp off the ocean floor is having bad consequences. Image by Peggy Foreman, NOAA Fisheries.

 

West Coast Ocean Disaster Continues

California's Crashing Kelp Forest,
University of California - Davis, October 21, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Ocean System Crash
2013-2017
"First the sea stars wasted to nothing. Then the purple urchins took over, eating and eating until the bull kelp forests were gone. The red abalone starved. Their fishery closed. Red sea urchins starved. Their fishery collapsed. And the ocean kept warming."

West Coast Kelp Crash
"...use two decades of kelp ecosystem monitoring data to chronicle the catastrophic shift in 2014 from a robust bull kelp forest to a barren of purple sea urchins. Similar impacts are being observed in kelp forests from Baja California to Alaska."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Antarctic Ice Cliff Failure Postponed a Century or Two?

 

OCEANS, ICE, WATER, & HEAT

Lots of Water There...
The Getz Ice Shelf to Remain Intact?
The Getz Ice Shelf extends several miles into the ocean from the Getz glacier as it empties into the ocean along the Antarctic coast, NASA / Dick Ewers, Operation Ice Bridge.
The Getz Ice Shelf extends several miles into the ocean from the Getz glacier as it empties into the ocean along the Antarctic coast. The vertical face of the ice shelf is almost 200 feet high and is estimated to extend another 1000 feet below the ocean surface. NASA / Dick Ewers, Operation Ice Bridge.

 

Antarctic Ice Cliff Failure Postponed a Century or Two?

Antarctic Ice Cliffs may Not Contribute to Sea-Level Rise as Much as Predicted,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 21, 2019.

MAIN POINT

"...our work shows that cliff failure is probably not the mechanism by which we would get a lot of sea level rise in the near future."

Bottom Line

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Bribed Dems Make Us Pay PGE to Burn Us Down

Important Note
For our Public, Personal, and Financial Safety and Stability
We Must
Convert PG&E into to a Ratepayer-State Owned Public Utility
 

 

CORPORATE CAPTIVES on FIRE

Bribed Dems Make Us Pay PG&E to Burn Us Down

Newsom Authorizes $21 Billion Fund to Protect Utilities From Fire Costs,
SF Chron, July 12, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Demon Corporate Rats
"AB1054, which overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the Legislature..."

Public Funded Private Profits
"...a new wildfire fund for claims associated with future blazes started by power lines, mandates safety investments from the major utilities and changes crucial aspects of how the state regulates them, among other provisions."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Mars Once had Salt Lakes Similar to Earth

 

ASTROPHYSICS, SOLAR SYSTEM, MARS

Curiosity Rover Landing Site in Gale Crater
The Context of Curiosity Landing Site in Gale Crater, NASA.
The Context of Curiosity Landing Site in Gale Crater, NASA.

 

Gale Crater: Curiosity Rover & It's Mars Science Lab

Mars Once had Salt Lakes Similar to Earth,
Texas A&M University, October 18, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Salt Lakes
"Mars once had salt lakes that are similar to those on Earth and has gone through wet and dry periods..."

Where
Gale Crater
"...Gale Crater, an immense 95-mile-wide rocky basin that is being explored with the NASA Curiosity rover since 2012 as part of the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) mission."

"Gale Crater formed about 3.6 billion years ago when a meteor hit Mars and created its large impact crater."

Liquid Water
"Gale Crater reveals signs that liquid water was present over its history, which is a key ingredient of microbial life as we know it.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Field Observations: Orionid Meteor Shower

 

ASTROPHYSICS-ASTRONOMY-METEORS

2009 Orionids
2009 composite of Orionid Meteor Shower, NASA.
The false-color images above are composite images from 2009 Orionids meteor shower observations, as seen in the skies over Huntsville, Ala. Credit to NASA.

 

Field Observations

Orionid Neteor Shower,
In the Sky, October 21, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Why
The Orionid Meteor Shower happens when the Earth passes through the debris trail left in the orbital path of Haley's Comet.

Dates & Peak
"...will be active from 2 October to 7 November, producing its peak rate of meteors around 21 October."

Orion
"...a chance of seeing Orionid meteors whenever the shower's radiant point – in the constellation Orion – is above the horizon, with the number of visible meteors increasing the higher the radiant point is in the sky."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Multidirectional Ridgecrest Quake Triggered Garlock Fault Movement

 

GEOLOGY, EARTHQUAKES, RIDGECREST QUAKE UPDATE

The Danger Zone, 2018
What are your chances of experiencing Moderately-Damaging Ground Shaking in 2018? USGS
What are your chances of experiencing Moderately-Damaging Ground Shaking in 2018? USGS, original.

 

Multidirectional Ridgecrest Quake Triggered Garlock Fault Movement

Lessons from Ridgecrest,
California Institute of Technology, October 17, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

What
"...a comprehensive analysis of the Ridgecrest Earthquake Sequence by geophysicists from Caltech and JPL..."

The Ridgecrest Earthquake
"The Ridgecrest Earthquake Sequence included a magnitude-6.4 foreshock on July 4, followed by a magnitude-7.1 mainshock nearly 34 hours later, and more than 100,000 aftershocks. The sequence rattled most of Southern California, but the strongest shaking occurred about 200 kilometers north of Los Angeles."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Big Climate-Driven Changes in Alaskan Forests Unfolding Now, How will Future Forests Look?

 

ALASKAN FORESTS & TREES in a RADICALLY WARMING WORLD

Climate Change Brings Forest Change
Climate Change in Alaska Brings Forest Change, Biomass changes by species over time, Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment.
Biomass changes by species over time, Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment.

 

Big Changes Unfolding Now

Warmer, Drier Climate Could Transform Alaskan Forests,
NASA Earth Observatory, October 17, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

A Very Different Future
"In a future with higher temperatures and other climate changes, Alaska’s boreal forests could look significantly different than they do now."

Major Changes Anticipated
"In a warmer future, the ratio of conifers to deciduous trees is likely to change, with aspen and birch trees increasing compared to black and white spruce."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Second Interstellar Comet Identified and Confirmed

 

ASTROPHYSICS, SPACE

Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov
Two-color composite image of comet 2I/Borisov, Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA.
Two-color composite image of comet 2I/Borisov captured by the Gemini North telescope on 10 September 2019. The image was obtained with eight 60-second exposures, four in green and four in red bands, Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA.

 

Second Interstellar Comet Identified and Confirmed

Interstellar Comet with a Familiar Look,
Astronomical Observatory, Jagiellonian University, October 14, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

2I/Borisov
"On 8 September 2019 at 04:15 universal time, the program issued a red alert and notified the team of a possible new hyperbolic object arriving from interstellar space."

Interstellar
"The body had been first spotted by Gennady Borisov a week earlier, although its identity had been unknown at that time. A closer investigation into the object's orbit confirmed its exosolar origin, making it the second-known interstellar interloper."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Full Range of Rapid Climate Changes Across the Arctic Felt in Alaska

 

ECO-CRASHING NEWS-CLIMATE ISSUES INTERSECT IN ALASKA

The Incredible Rapidly Shrinking-Disappearing Alaskan Winters
Length of the snow season (gray bars) in Alaska each year from 1997-2018, by Rick Thoman, Alaska Center for Climate and Policy.
Length of the snow season (gray bars) in Alaska each year from 1997-2018. Orange slanting bars show the trend: the date when the state becomes 50 percent snow covered is arriving a week later in October than it used it, and the spring "snow-off" date—when half the winter snow has melted—is arriving nearly two weeks earlier. Image by Rick Thoman, Alaska Center for Climate and Policy.

 

Full Range of Rapid Changes Across the Arctic Felt in Alaska

New Report Highlights Alaska’s last Five Years of Dramatic Climate Change,
NOAA Climate, October 15, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

"Alaska’s climate is changing, thanks to human-caused global warming, and the effects are widespread and sometimes dangerous."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Water Expert's Long Term Views: There Never Was Enough Water in the Colorado River

 

COLORADO RIVER WATER, HOOVER DAM, HISTORY & FUTURE

Hoover Dam Intake Towers Exposed by Low Level of Lake Mead
Hoover Dam's Lake Mead Intake Towers Exposed, egorshitikov, Pixaday.
Trend lines for the Colorado River & Her Reservoirs are pointing downward rapidly as illegal populations in the Southwestern US continue to explode. Image by egorshitikov, Pixabay.

 

Water Expert's Long Term Views: There Never Was Enough Water

From “The Great Mistake” to “Science Be Dammed,”
JFleck at Inkstain, October 9, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Sibert's Pre-Construction Analysis
"A retired Army officer and engineer, he headed a panel chartered by Congress in 1928 to review the feasibility of the..." Hoover Dam Project.

The Question
"...does the Colorado River really have enough water to honor the allocations in the legislation Congress was about to approve?"

Alex Wierbinski's picture

September 2019 in the USA brings Extremes of Wet, Warm, and Dry

 

CLIMATE, WATER, & WEATHER: US SEPTEMBER

Extremes of Wet & Dry

Assessing the U.S. Climate in September 2019,
NCEI, October 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Second Warmest Month
September 2019 was second warmest in record, by NCEI.
"...second warmest September in the 125-year period of record. The warmest September on record occurred in 1998 and was 0.5°F warmer than in 2019."

Average Precip
September 2019 US Total Precipitation Percentiles, by NCEI.
"...September precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.42 inches, 0.07 inch below average, ranking in the middle third of the 125-year period of record."

Note the division of record precipitation and record dryness across the US during September. The extremes dry of the Southeast and extreme wet of the Upper Midwest balanced into an average of extremes.

Drought Growing in Southeast

Drought Report

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