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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Wildlife Conservation Society: 77% of Wilderness Gone


Vast Majority of Wilderness GONE

A wilderness 'horror story,'
Wildlife Conservation Society, October 31, 2018.



77% of Wilderness Gone
“...conservation scientists...say that just 23 percent of the world's landmass can now be considered wilderness, with the rest - excluding Antarctica - lost to the direct effects of human activities.”

End of Wilderness
“These results are nothing short of a horror story for the planet's last wild places. The loss of wilderness must be treated in the same way we treat extinction. There is no reversing once the first cut enters. The decision is forever."

Last Land & Sea Refuges
“Various analyses reveal that wilderness areas provide increasingly important refuges for species that are declining in landscapes dominated by people. In the seas, they are the last regions that still contain viable populations of top predators, such as tuna, marlins and sharks.”

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At the Center of Our Galaxy: Star Orbits Our Black Hole at 2.7% of Light Speed

Matter Itself Observed Falling into Sag A*



At the Center of Our Galaxy

Star Orbits Our Black Hole at 2.7% of Light Speed
(4971 Miles Per Second)

GRAVITY confirms predictions of general relativity,
CNRS, July 30, 2018.


"Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* Black Hole) sits at the centre of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years from Earth. This black hole, which has a mass 4 million times that of the sun, is surrounded by a star cluster - the S stars - which reach mind-boggling speeds when they approach the hole."

Sagittarius A* and its Star Cluster
Sagittarius A* and its star cluster
Credit, Copyright by Paris Observatory / LESIA

"...to follow one particular star in the Sgr A* system - S2 - before and after it passed close to the black hole on 19 May 2018. GRAVITY achieved a resolution of 50 microarcseconds: the angle at which a tennis ball placed on the moon would be visible from Earth."

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Cookware and Utensils: Backpackers Favorites for High Sierra Travel

Members Favorites


Cookware and Utensils

Having the best, simplest setup that serves our food and camp beverage needs keeps everything simple and light.



Surfbum                   Spork 



gbrahaney               Primus EtaPower Group Cookset   POTS AND PANS



cmcrooker                850 mL titanium mug from Mountain Laurel Designs for my pot to cook dinner.



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October 2018 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index


Last Update
October 31, 2018









High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature


October, 2018

Happenings in the relationship between Man and Nature affecting our hike down life's trail through both worlds. We study both the reality created by humans and the uncreated reality reflected in, and tended by Nature. 

The vast majority of our reporting on Nature comes from the American Association of Scientists summarizations of each day's bounty of the peer-reviewed research published by academic institutions and journals around the world.

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Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?


Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?

Widely used mosquito repellent proves lethal to larval salamanders,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, October 31, 2018.


Chemical Defense
“Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and West Nile virus.”

Natural Defense
“Salamanders provide natural mosquito control. During their aquatic juvenile phase, they forage on mosquito larvae, keeping populations of these nuisance insects in check.”

The Two Don’t Mix
“Chemicals in repellents enter aquatic ecosystems through sewage effluent and are now common in surface waters.”

More Skeeters?
“The paper is the first to suggest that environmentally realistic concentrations of picaridin-containing repellents in surface waters may increase the abundance of adult mosquitoes due to a decrease in predation pressure on mosquitoes at the larval stages.”

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Lyme disease predicted to rise in United States as climate warms


20% Higher in 30 Years

Lyme disease predicted to rise in United States as climate warms,
Carnegie Mellon University, October 31, 2018.


“...its incidence has risen sharply in the last decade. Since its progression depends on environmental factors, increases in daily temperatures, a manifestation of climate change, might be contributing to a rise in the number of ticks as well as a greater availability of hosts.”

Already Exploding
“The number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States rose from 10,000 in 1991 to about 28,000 annually in the past five years.”

Tick Distribution Mirrors Temp & Humidity
“...ticks spend most of their life cycle outside the host in an environment where temperature and humidity directly affect their development, activity, survival, and host-seeking behavior. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses the number of cases of Lyme disease as an indicator of climate change.”


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Astro News, Its Raining Exoplanets: 100 new exoplanets

Kepler accomplishments at retirement in October, 2018, NASA.
Final Score of Kepler Accomplishments, NASA Graphic

Kepler Space Telescope Retired


Original Story:

Astronomy News
It's Raining Exoplanets

100 new exoplanets

Kepler scientists discover almost 100 new exoplanets,
Technical University of Denmark, February 15, 2018.

"The Kepler spacecraft was launched in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single patch of sky..."

"Today some 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter."




NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope

NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch,
NASA, October 30, 2018.

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Long Term Mortality Stats Analyzed


Mortality Stats Analyzed

Young men more likely to die in summer, older people in winter despite local climate,
eLife, October 30, 2018.


“...an analysis spanning nearly four decades...”

“In this study, we set out to comprehensively characterise the patterns of death over different time periods and geographical areas to understand when and where death rates are at their highest and lowest.”

“…data on 85,854,176 deaths in the US between 1980 and 2016...”

“...several distinct seasonal patterns in relation to age and gender:”
> Deaths from overall mortality (any cause of death) in men aged 45 years and older and women aged 35 years and older peaked in December, January or February, and were lowest in June to August

> Deaths from heart and lung diseases were highest in January and February and lowest in July and August regardless of age

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Is the Long Valley Caldera Hot-Cold Water Boundary Secure?


Is the Long Valley Caldera's Hot-Cold Water Boundary Secure?

Is former Olympian a bully or savior in geothermal fight?
E&ENews, October 29, 2018.


Not Contained?
“Hayes, a charismatic former Olympian, says data show the deep geothermal reservoirs used for energy production are not completely contained. They are already contaminating the town's shallower groundwater aquifers, he says, and the problem could get worse when the plant expands production.”

“...that's what Pat Hayes, the area's water manager, wants you to think.”

“The problem for Hayes, though, is it's unclear how much validity there is to those claims.”

“His critics note that Hayes has secured few victories. Courts have strongly rejected his claims, siding with regulators who reviewed the relevant scientific data, as well as a robust groundwater monitoring plan they've put in place.”

“Judge Stan Eller concluded that "available evidence" indicates the groundwater and geothermal systems are separate.”

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Hawking: Soaring populations and increased energy demands will cause catastrophe

Blast from the Past


Eco Crash News
No One Does it Like The Taboloids

I love the Daily Mail & Brit Tabs

Hawking: Soaring populations and increased energy demands will cause catastrophe
Hawking on the Simpsons, credit to Matt Groening.
Hawking on the Simpsons, credit to Matt Groening.

Earth 'will become a flaming ball of fire by 2600': Professor Stephen Hawking warns that mankind must make plans to leave the planet to avoid extinction,
Daily Mail, November 6, 2017.

USA Today "Coverage"

Here's what I think really happened: Hawking, being the brilliant mathematician he is, "crunched the global CO2 numbers," and came up with a rough estimate of, "six hundred years," before our Carbon Dioxide feeds-back like Venus, we get a catastrophic greenhouse effect, and we cook.

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UK Bees, 2018: 2 of 25 Species Extinct, 8 Endangered

Carder Bee in UK, by Richard Comont.
Carder Bee in UK, by Richard Comont.

2 of 25 Species Extinct, 8 Endangered

UK bumblebee population trends,
University of Kent, October 29, 2018.


"Britain's 25 bumblebee species are some of the nation's favourite creatures and are also vital for the pollination of crops, garden plants and wildflowers."

2 of 25 Extinct, 8 Endangered
"...they have suffered huge declines over the past century: two species went extinct in the past 80 years, and eight species are endangered."


The Buzz

Manzanita Bee in Trouble

Bee News, A Symphony of Bees Buzzing: Water and Sky Harmony Required

Bee News: Fungiciedes and Insecticides Getting the Bees

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Study: reduced screen time for young highly recommended for well-being



Screen Time, Children, and Cell-Phonyism

New study: reduced screen time for young highly recommended for well-being,
San Diego State University, October 29, 2018.


“...time spent on gaming, smartphones and watching television is linked to heightened levels and diagnoses of anxiety or depression in children as young as age 2.”

The Idiot Screen
"...after only one hour of screen time daily, children and teens may begin to have less curiosity, lower self-control, less emotional stability and a greater inability to finish tasks."

"The National Institute of Health estimates that youth commonly spend an average of five to seven hours (per day!) on screens during leisure time."

2X Freeky-Creepy
“...adolescents who spend more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spending one hour to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression - a significant finding.”

Screen-Kid Effects

Less “Well”
"Moderate use of screens, at four hours each day, was also associated with lower psychological well-being than use of one hour a day.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

California Democrats Must Stop Putting Oil Industry Over Water?


Democrats Poisoning our Land, Water, and People for Political Bribes & Power

California (Dem Appointed…) Water Officials Must Stop Putting Oil Industry Over Water,
Water Deeply, October 25, 2018.


Democratic” Bribery in Action
"State regulators have allowed the oil industry to dump waste fluid in unlined pits for decades. Even amid proof that this practice has polluted groundwater, officials continue to grant the industry a pass on cleanup requirements.”

Bribery Always Wins…
"Too often, protecting California’s precious groundwater clashes with the interests of the oil industry. Due to its outsized political influence, oil frequently wins out."

“...in the Central Valley, where many oilfield operators are dumping their toxic oil-waste fluid into open, unlined pits.”

Dangers? Really!
"...risk contaminating the underlying groundwater with chemicals that make us sick. In fact, in 2015 an independent scientific panel recommended that California phase out the use of these disposal pits, citing their danger to groundwater."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Ocean Acidification Melting the Damn Floor of the Sea!


Ocean Acidification Melting the Damn Seafloor

Alterations to seabed raise fears for future,
McGill University, October 29, 2018.


Ocean Acidification
“The ocean floor as we know it is dissolving rapidly as a result of human activity.”

“Normally the deep sea bottom is a chalky white. It's composed, to a large extent, of the mineral calcite (CaCO3) formed from the skeletons and shells of many planktonic organisms and corals.”

“The dissolution of calcite neutralizes the acidity of the CO2, and in the process prevents seawater from becoming too acidic.”

“As a result of human activities the level of CO2 in the water is so high, and the water is so acidic, that the calcite is simply being dissolved.”

“...in certain hotspots such as the Northern Atlantic and the southern Oceans, the ocean's chalky bed is becoming more of a murky brown.”

“...is only a foretaste of the way that the ocean floor will most likely be affected in future.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

October 2018: The Blob is Back?


Feeling Blobbish?

The Massive Anomaly 'Blob' in The Pacific Is Back And Might Bring Even More Strange Weather,
Science Alert, October 18, 2018.


“...unsure whether the blob will remain a fixture or fade away. If it manages to linger into the winter, the consequences for the Lower 48 could be profound.”


The Bottom Line

During the height of the Blob in ‘15 we had the most profound drought in recorded history in California, while at the same time the most powerful El Nino in recorded history was bubbling along in the East-Central Pacific… which was supposed to bring tropical deluge...

This driest year in California of 2015 was rapidly followed by the wettest year of 2017.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Flashlight and Headlamps: Members Favorites for High Sierra Backpacking

Members Favorites

Headlamps and Flashlights 

 Reliable light at night is vital on the trail.


leesonza               flashlight


AlexW                      Princeton Tech


                                 Black Diamond Astro


abramrodd              Black Diamond Ion Headlamp


I've used maglights, a dozen different Petzl Headlamps, and now deploying a Princeton Tech Headlamp. Used a Black Diamond this year, 2018.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

What to do about bear/human conflict hot-spots found in new study?


How to Get Along with Bears

A black bear playbook: Conservationists predict bear/human conflict hot-spots in new study,
Wildlife Conservation Society, October 26, 2018.


"...uses long term data on bear mortality to map high-probability hot-spots for human-bear conflicts."

"...to understand the impact of an increasing human footprint on American black bears at the wildland-urban interface."

Bear Mortality
"...looked at expanding bear populations in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Western Great Basin Desert in Nevada, examining 382 bear deaths between 1997 and 2013. They found that the largest causes of mortality were vehicle collisions (160) and management removal of bears (132) due to animals breaking into people's homes and/or causing property damage, or other threats to human safety."


382 bear deaths,    16 per year

Road Kill #1            10 per year

Urban Kill #2            8 per year

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2018 USGS National Volcanic Threat Assessment UPDATE


Mountain Safety & Understanding Our Terrain

2018 Update to the U.S. Geological Survey National Volcanic Threat Assessment,
USGS, October 22, 2018, PDF.

       USGS Abstract-Introduction Page

Information & Awareness
Western US Maps & the Threat List

The main point of this whole exercise is to make citizens and public safety officers aware of the nature and extent of potential local and regional volcanic threats.

This assessment information, along with some good news reporting, may have discouraged some of the folks backpacking Mount Saint Helens the day it blew...

Volcano Hazards Program

Earthquake Hazards Program

Today's Earthquake Map

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Mountain Safety, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, October, 2018


SEKI INCIDENTS: What Not to Do...

Incidents in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks,
Kaweah Commonwealth, October 23, 2018.


Mineral King


"October 14— At 1:45 a.m., rangers were notified of a satellite device activation atop Franklin Pass registered to a 34-year-old male. Rangers were not able to obtain details of injury/illness. Search-and-rescue operations were planned to be initiated early the following morning. At 8 a.m., Park dispatch was contacted via cell phone by the individual who had activated his PLB. The individual was uninjured, not requesting assistance, and hiking out under his own power. The individual stated that he had activated his PLB when his tent was surrounded by three mountain lions during the night. A further investigation will be conducted. Sequoia-Kings Canyon wildlife officials have been notified of the incident."


Grant Grove

"October 9— Rangers provided medical aid to a hunter who was gored by a deer. It was a walk-in medical at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. The individual initially self-applied a tourniquet to his left leg, and bleeding was later controlled by the ranger. The hunter was later transferred to Sequoia Safety Council and transported."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Two Visitors Fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park



Fall Fatalities

Two Visitors Fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park,
Yosemite National Park, October 25, 2018.

“A male and female visitor died in an apparent fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park Rangers are recovering the bodies this morning.”

“This incident is under investigation and no further details are available. No photos or videos are available. The identification of the deceased has not yet been determined.”


Taft Point

Taft Point is West of Glacier Point




Tourist Death off Nevada Falls

Yosemite’s Deadly Distraction



Yosemite National Park Maps

7.5 minute Yosemite Valley Detailed Hiking Map
Click Red Dots for Trail Guide entries for that location

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The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

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