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

Thwaites Glacier to be Gone in between 200 & 600 Years



Thwaites Glacier's Edge
Thwaites Glacier's Edge, credit Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA/James Yungel.
"Thwaites Glacier's outer edge. As the glacier flows into the ocean, it becomes sea ice and drives up sea level. Thwaites Glacier ice is flowing particularly fast, and some researchers believe it may have already tipped into instability or be near that point, though this has not yet been established." Credit, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA/James Yungel


Everything Changing Rapidly

Instability in Antarctic Ice Projected to make Sea Level Rise Rapidly,
Georgia Institute of Technology, July 8, 2019.


Antarctic Surprise
"...instability hidden within Antarctic ice is likely to accelerate its flow into the ocean and push sea level up at a more rapid pace than previously expected."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

OCEANS, WATER, & LIFE: Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Seaweed...



Massive Sargassum Seaweed Bloom Grounding in Mexico
It's Hitting the Fan, Now...
Sargassum Seaweed Grounding, Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.
Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.


Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Vast Seaweed Blooms...

Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World,
NASA Earth Observatory, July 8, 2019.

USF Article


“Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.”
"...the belt of brown macroalgae called Sargassum can grow so large that it blankets the surface of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. This happened in 2018 when more than 20 million tons of Sargassum—heavier than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers—floated in surface waters and wreaked havoc on shorelines in the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico."

“The scale of these blooms is truly enormous."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

News of Fish, Water, Oceans, Ice, & People, Summer & Fall of 2019

News of Fish, Water, Oceans, Ice, & People,

Summer & Fall


This is the High Sierra
Fish, Oceans, Ice, Sealife, & Water News

The Fish News has been stretching into Fish & River News, now into covering Water Issues generally. We cover water as it stands, pools, flows, freezes, and precipitates. A step further, we cover how water affects the things that most directly depend on it, the things that grow, swim, drink, ship, & store water.


NOAA West Coast Fisheries

All Sierra Snow

All Sierra Precip



Winter & Spring of 2019


2015-17 Fish, Ice, Oceans, WATER, & People NEWS & RESEARCH


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Status & Evolution of the High Sierra Spring Thaw of 2019

High Sierra Spring of 2019
Evolution of Conditions

Page Started
March 30, 2019

July 7, 2019



A Heavy Snow Year

July 5 2019
A Month of Warm-"Temperate" Temps with Rapid & Slow periods of Thawing.
Heavy Spring Snowpack Persisting into Summer: Extra Caution, Information, Skills, Fitnesss and Proper Gear still REQUIRED.
71% of Average Snowpack

June 17 2019
Two Weeks of Warm Temps & Rapid Thawing
120% of Average Snowpack

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Science Performs Intellectual Gymnastics to Preserve Paris Accord Farce



Modern Industrial Infrastructure
A Power Plant
 Last of the Mohicans, if Paris is going to, "work?" Credit Carnegie Inst. Sci.
Last of the Mohicans, if Paris is going to, "work?" Credit Carnegie Inst. Sci.


Science Performs Intellectual Gymnastics to Preserve Paris Accord Farce

Two-degree climate goal attainable without early infrastructure retirement,
Carnegie Institution for Science, July 2, 2019.

Main Points

Current CO2 Production
"...China is predicted to produce the largest share--41 percent--and the United States and European Union 9 percent and 7 percent respectively."

What about India?

Present Costs Exceed Limits
"...future emissions from these existing facilities would take up the entire carbon budget needed to to limit mean warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and close to two-thirds of the budget needed to constrain warming to below 2 degrees Celsius over the next three decades."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire



May 29 & June 17, 2019
Donnell Lake and Crabtree Trailhead Closures ADDED

May 23, 2019
Forest Closure Order Modification,
North & East Carson Iceberg Wilderness Opened, Half TYT still Closed



During the Donnell Fire, August 2018
Bringing Water to Fire

FEO Engine 344 on Groveland Ranger District, by Josiah Dewey.
Photo by Josiah Dewey, FEO Engine 344 of Groveland Ranger District. More.


Aftermath of the Donnell Fire

Stanislaus National Forest, Recent Forest Orders,
Stanislaus National Forest. Alerts & Notices.

The Donnell Fire

Donnell Fire Timeline

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Alaska Setting Heat and Dryness Records during July of 2019




It Was A Balmy 90 Degrees Yesterday In Anchorage — For The First Time On Record,
NPR, July 5, 2019.


90 Degrees
"...the all-time heat record for the northerly city."

"Anchorage's previous record high (at least since 1952) was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, set on June 14, 1969."

Hottest & Driest June Ever
(After Shortest Winter Cold)
"...hottest June ever, according to the National Weather Service. Average temperature for the month was 60.5 degrees, 5.3 degrees above normal. It was the 16th consecutive month with above-average temperatures."

"...the driest June on record."

Baking Alaska
"Several Alaskan cities set or matched all-time heat records on Thursday: 89 degrees in Kenai and King Salmon, 88 in Palmer."

Fire & Smoke
"...battling wildfires across the state, and on Monday authorities issued an air quality advisory for south-central Alaska."


More Information

Better than NPR

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Minaret Summit Road, Highway 203, Reds Meadow to Open Thursday, July 4, 2019



Backpacker Access to the High Sierra

Minaret Summit Road Shuttle
Minaret Summit Road Shuttle to JMT at Reds Meadow and PCT at Agnew Meadow.
Only access to and from JMT to Reds Meadow, PCT to Agnew Meadow, & Devils Postpile

Minaret Summit Road, Highway 203

Reds Meadow Pack Station, Devils Postpile, JMT-PCT Trailheads Access into the sweet hiking, scrambling, and climbing terrain of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Reds Meadow to open Thursday, July 4,
Sierra Wave, July 1, 2019.


"...made the decision to open the area to the public with the provision of the mandatory shuttle and the placement of restroom facilities for day-use visitors."

"The Reds Meadow Shuttle is scheduled to operate seven days/week through Wednesday, September 4, 2019."

"Backcountry hikers can purchase shuttle tickets from the bus driver in the valley."

"Due to the winter storm impacts and required infrastructure repairs, no campgrounds are open in the Reds Meadow area."

Shuttle Service Information

tmorton23's picture

High Sierra Backpacking Trip Report: Twin Lakes-Benson Lake Loop, July 14 to July 21, 2018


Trip Report
Bensen Lake Loop

July 14 – 21, 2018

Editor's Note
This trip begins and ends at the Twin Lakes Trailhead in the Toiyabe-administered Northern section of the Hoover Wilderness. It climbs precipitiously to, then over the Sierra Crest, into the heart of the very difficult backpacking terrain of the North Yosemite Backcountry.

Intercepting the routes of the unified PCT-TYT along Rancheria Creek in Kerrick Canyon, our route turns South with them, briefly up through the beauties of Seavy Pass before plunging down into what I call, "The Bensen Hole," only to make the precipitiously steep climb back out past the beauties of Smedberg Lake and finally over Bensen Pass, on our way back to Twin Lakes where we split off the PCT-TYT in the bottom of Matterhorn Canyon, North, to climb up through Matterhorn Canyon through Burro and Mule Passes, from the point where the PCT-TYT begin their climb East out of Matterhorn Canyon to Miller Lake, on our way back to our starting trailhead at Twin Lakes.

Check out Tim's fine description of this classic High Sierra hike, accompanied with the maps, mileages, and his excellent images of this challenging route below...

Time & Distance

Eight Nights

Around 54 miles


All Photos


Trail Guide

Barney Lake in the Hoover Wilderness
Alex Wierbinski's picture

Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking: Crabtree to Gem Lake, Deer Lake, and More

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness

A fantastic  4 day Backpacking Trip into the Emigrant Wilderness from trailhead East of Pinecrest Lake near Highway 108.

Status Update

MAY 2019
Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire


Peter describes food resources there and back, roads, fishing, trail culture and terrain descriptions that make this a fantastic description of a fantastic backpacking trip.

Trail into Emigrant Wilderness from Crabtree Trailhead.
 Backpacking Trail into Emigrant Wilderness through Crabtree Trailhead

Thanks to Peter and Jason for sharing this!

Emigrant Wilderness NF PDF

All Tahoe to Whitney MAPS
Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking Maps


Emigrant Wilderness Trailheads NF PDF

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Hobbitbook 2013 Trail Report: Summit City Creek along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Route

Hi Alex,

I had a great trip through Summit City Ck canyon last week... its BEE-OO-TEE-FUL! Wow, what a gem.

Finding the trail was just fine, probably because I was expecting the worst from your website description.

People had left many cairns to follow, and it seemed like a number of folks had been there already this year, leaving their trails to follow through bracken and undergrowth, including the enchanted forest.

The trail has a real personality, very playful, and it loves big trees. There were plenty of those in the enchanted forest - wow, what an incredible place. It feels so ancient in there.

I did want to report that someone left their mark in nail polish along the trail: On the Horse Creek signpost: "Danger Not Horse Safe," "Lost the trail 2.5 mi," "GPS needed"

Horse Canyon trail junction marred by Finger Polish Lady, Summer 2013.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Peter's Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Report June 2014

Upon the first publication of this report on June 8th 2014 Peter had just completed an early season snow-hiking trip along the Classic Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route. At that time he sent us very valuable information about early season conditions early in the season, which we first put up here on June 8 of 2014.

This information is not only valuable for backpackers trying to ascertain the conditions along the unmaintained segments of the trail, but also preps backpackers for the difficulties and challenges of hiking and navigating the Sierra Crest and backcountry through Spring snow conditions.

Though the particular stage of Spring conditions Peter describes transpires at a different times during each season's unique progression from Winter to Summer conditions, Peter well describes mid-to-late Spring conditions in the High Sierra.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Early-Season June 2019 Heatwave Tortures Europe



Euro Temps June 27, 2019
Extreme Euro Temps June 27, 2019, by Joshua Stevens, at NASA GSFC.
"...represents air temperatures at 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above the ground. The drkest red areas are where the model shows temperatures surpassing 40°C (100°F), by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC. Convert C-F


Heatwave Tortures Europe

Heatwave Scorches Europe,
NASA Earth Observatory, June 28, 2019.


Heat Wave
“Many parts of the continent saw the hottest temperatures so far for 2019, with some cities recording their hottest day on record.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Highway 120, Tioga Road Fully Opening July 1, 2019



Tioga Road Opening July 1, 2019, Highway 120

Yosemite National Park Announces Tioga Road To Open to Unrestricted Vehicular Traffic on Monday, July 1,
Yosemite National Park, June 27, 2019.


Unrestricted Vehicular Traffic
“...unrestricted vehicular traffic on Monday, July 1st, at 8:00 a.m..”

Previously & Still Limited Traffic, Until July 1
Tioga Road Limited Opening June 21, 2019
"...open to all vehicles, including bicycles, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm."

“From now until the full opening Monday morning, vehicular access will continue to be available from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will continue to be no stopping along the road and no overnight parking.”

Backpackers-Bicycle Restrictions/Requirements in Force
From Previous Order

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Half Dome Permit Policy Safety Analysis



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.


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

A Look at National Park Trash Production, Perceptions, and Reductions



National Park Trash
National Park Trash, Zach Miller/Utah State University.
The amount of waste produced in national parks in a concern for park and protected area managers. Handling visitor waste...can tax systems to the extreme. Zach Miller/Utah State University.


National Amusement Parks, Or Natural High Points?

National Trash: Reducing Waste Produced in US National Parks,
S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, June 25, 2019.


Overwhelmed Nation
Overwhelmed National Parks
"Given the recent substantial increase in national park visitation in the United States, impacts on visitor experience and ecological conditions have correspondingly increased."

Annual National Park Trash Output
"100 million pounds"

Extreme Stress
Too Many People

"Handling park waste costs money, involves significant effort, and requires human and natural resources that tax parks to the extreme."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Watch Out for the Green Water: Blue-Green Algae News and Safety Information

Watch Out for the Green Water

Toxic Algal Bloom
Blue green algae in Klamath River, credit to OSU.
Toxic Microcystis algae grow in a large bloom in the Copco Reservoir on the Klamath River, posing health risks to people, pets and wildlife. Go Beaves, credit to OSU!


It's that time of year again, as Spring turns into Summer and our extraordinarily warming waters present increasing blue-green algae threats.

The Basics
Do not drink, or allow your animals or children to drink from or play in water containing cynobacteria, otherwise known as toxic blue-green algae. Review the Blue-Green News just below and the safety information at the bottom of this page:

Blue-Green Algae Safety and Identification Information


September 16 Late Summer Report...
Winter snow standing deep into Spring, & Temprate Summer Temps, brought minimal Green Water to the High Sierra (and California) this year.


High Sierra Water Quality Articles

Alex Wierbinski's picture

June of 2019 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index


June 28, 2019









High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature

, 2019

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. 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Veillonella Gut Bacteria that Turns Soreness Into Energy



Gut Bacteria that Turns Soreness Into Energy

Performance-Enhancing Bacteria Found in the Microbiomes of Elite Athletes,
Joslin Diabetes Center, June 24, 2019.


Veillonella Gut Bacteria
"New research has identified a type of bacteria found in the microbiomes of elite athletes that contributes to improved capacity for exercise. These bacteria, members of the genus Veillonella, are not found in the guts of sedentary people."

"One of the things that immediately caught our attention was this single organism, Veillonella, that was clearly enriched in abundance immediately after the marathon in the runners."

Veillonella Eats Lactic Acid
"As we dug into the details of Veillonella, what we found was that it is relatively unique in the human microbiome in that it uses lactate or lactic acid as its sole carbon source."

"Lactic acid is produced by the muscles during strenuous exercise. The Veillonella bacteria are able to use this exercise by-product as their main food source."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Health & Fitness News & Research during the Summer and Fall of 2019


Health, Fitness, & The Human Condition 
News and Science

October 12, 2019

 Summer & Fall

January 1, 2019:



Latest News Below


Health & Fitness, Fall & Winter of 2019

Health & Fitness News, 2018

Health & Fitness News, 2015-2017

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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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