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

Antimicrobials Suck: Just Wash Your Frigging Hands...


Danger-Danger: Corruption Kills Man & Nature
 Skull and Crossbones symbol of death brought by the Greedy.
Corrupted Regulatory Apparatus allows Dangerous Chemicals in "Consumer" Products


Antimicrobials Suck: Just Wash Your Frigging Hands...

Chemical added to consumer products impairs response to antibiotic treatment,
Washington University in St. Louis, February 21, 2019.


Bad Anti-Microbials
“...a chemical that is supposed to kill bacteria is actually making them stronger and more capable of surviving antibiotic treatment.”

Triclosan put in Everything
“Triclosan is the active ingredient responsible for the “antibacterial” property marketed on many consumer products. It is added to toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetics and even to clothing, baby toys and credit cards with the intention of reducing or preventing bacterial growth.”

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World's Biggest Bee, Thought Lost, Rediscovered



Wallace’s Giant Bee Dwarfs the Common Honey Bee
 Wallace’s Giant Bee Dwarfs the Common Honey Bee in Size, University of Sydney, Image by Clay Bolt.
Image (composite): Wallace’s Giant Bee Dwarfs the Common Honey Bee in Size, University of Sydney, Image by Clay Bolt.


Biggest Bee, Thought Lost, Rediscovered

World's biggest bee found,
University of Sydney, Feburary 21, 2019.


Rediscovering Wallace’s Giant Bee
“...announced the finding of what many consider to be the 'holy grail' of bee discoveries - Wallace's giant bee.”

Lucky Bee
“The bee (Megachile pluto) is the world's largest, with a wingspan more than six centimetres (2.5 inches). Despite its conspicuous size, the bee has been lost to science since 1981.”

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Dancing Bees: Are Humans Killing the Waggle Dance?



A honeybee performing a waggle dance.
Bee doing Waggle Dance, Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, Photo by Christoph Grüter.
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, Photo by Christoph Grüter


Dancing Bees: Are Humans Killing the Waggle Dance?

Honeybees' waggle dance no longer useful in some cultivated landscapes,
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, February 22, 2019.


Dancing Bees
“...waggle dance, which is a unique pattern of behavior, which probably evolved more than 20 million years ago. A bee's waggle dance tells its sisters in the colony where to find a high-quality source of food.”

“Some waggle dances can last only a few seconds, while others may take up to five minutes.”

10 out of 500
“There are about ten different species of honeybees communicating through waggle dancing. However, the vast majority of bees, i.e., more than 500 species of highly social stingless insects, have no dance language.”

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Moon River Surpassed: Real River of Stars Observed


River of Stars Slashing Southern Hemisphere
River of stars slashes Southern Skies, Harvard, GAIA, Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Night sky centered on the south Galactic pole...the Milky Way curves around the entire image in an arc. The stars in the stream are displayed in red and cover almost the entire southern Galactic hemisphere. by GAIA, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Background image: Gaia DR2 skyma.


Moon River Surpassed: Real River of Stars Observed

A nearby river of stars,
Astronomy & Astrophysics, February 17, 2019.


“...a stellar stream in astronomical parlance, covering most of the southern sky.”

“A coeval, stream-like structure, stretching for hundreds of parsecs across a third of the entire sky.”

“The stream is relatively nearby and contains at least 4000 stars that have been moving together in space since they formed, about 1 billion years ago.”

“...it already has completed four full orbits around the Galaxy”

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High Sierra Clamper History: Virginia City, Gold Hill, & Silver City


High Sierra History

Virginia City, Gold Hill, & Silver City

Wild Times in the Mountains

Clampers honor Donovan Mill,
Record Courier, March 1, 2018.

Donovan Mill's location in Silver City put it into the near neighborhood of Virginia City and Gold Hill, near the epicenter of the Silver Boom of the late 1850s through the middle of the 1860s.

"Under the direction of last year's "Noble Grand Humbug" Brandon Wilding, five places were chosen to be honored. The most recent was Donovan Mill in Silver City, Nevada. The Comstock Foundation for History and Culture is in the process of restoring buildings and machinery to showcase their original use. The idea is to make an interpretive center that will give a real-life experience of what it was really like to live in the mining culture of days long past."

The Clampers keep us connected with these unique times in their classically unique way. The classic elements of the Clampers include their fantastic historical monuments. The uniqueness of the Clampers is a direct echo of the craziness of the Silver Boom Times we can see reflecting in the sparkle in Mark Twain's eyes, through the ages since he put together his classic compliation of Wild West Tales, in Roughing It, linked to below.


Silver Boom HIstory

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpacking out of the snow-filled Tahoe Basin 3: Day 2, Burnt Area Camp to Round Lake

Day One, Campsite One: A tour of the location of my campsite on the burnt flat area relative to Big Meadow, the South Upper Truckee's Eastern tributary,  and Meyers down the valley.

(Map, Miles, Elevations, Video & Trail Guide info below)

After arriving at camp I leave on my pack and snowshoes to better stamp out flats for my sleeping pad and sleeping bag, as well as to compress a bit of space that I can cook and kick back in. If I do not do this, I will endlessly post hole when I take off my snow shoes. When you compress soft snow it tries to refreeze, and if you are lucky it will hold up your weight without snow shoes after a good compression session.

Burnt area primitive Winter campsite along Upper Truckee River.

Above: Campsite one in the morning

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The Ancient, Mighty Tick

 Updated Feburary 25, 2019:

Tick Defense Strategies
The Tick Stick, and Good Trail & Camp Practices



The Ancient, Mighty Tick

Distribution of Western Black Legged Tick...Today
Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans, Western Blacklegged Tick, credit to RRLash, CDC.
Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans
, Western Blacklegged Tick, Credit to RRLash of the CDC.

Tick Alert-Tick Alert!

As Spring and Summer Approach, We Think about How Wild the Ticks are on the Coast, and their Potential for Climbing Mountains with the returning Deer during Spring & Summer

UC research shows ticks are even tougher and nastier than you thought,
University of Cincinnati, September 25, 2017. 

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Black Hole Plasma Planet Killer Beam


 Astrophysics & Astronomy News

Black Hole Plasma Planet Killer Ray
Black Hole Death Ray, G Pérez Díaz (IAC), University of Southampton.
Great visulation by G Pérez Díaz (IAC),   University of Southampton.

Scientists penetrate mystery of raging black hole beams,

Cool Black Hole Death Ray Video


More Interesting Nature Videos



"...observations of a binary system called V404 Cygni - consisting of a star and a black hole closely orbiting each other, with the black hole feeding off matter from the star that falls through the disc..."

"They are nature's very own Death Star beams - ultra-powerful jets of energy that shoot out from the vicinity of black holes like deadly rays from the Star Wars super-weapon."

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February 2019 NOAA: Weak El Nino Here? To Persist?


EL Nino Conditions Rise
Sea Surface Temps of Dec 2018 compared to 1981-2010 period
Dec 2018 SST compared to 1981-2010 period, NOAA, Climate.gov, NNVL
Geo-Polar SST of El Nino Zone, NOAA, Climate.gov, NNVL


Weak El Nino Here? To Persist?

NOAA announces the arrival of El Nino,
El Nino likely to be weak with little influence on weather through early spring.
NOAA, Feburary 14, 2019.


NOAA Monthl Report, PDF

Latest NWS CPC Analysis


Backpacker's Weather Page
El Nino Information

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA REPORTS: Atmospheric River Soaks California


Tropical Transport Mechanism
Feb 14 Tropical Transport Mechanism being pushed South by descending Low, NOAA.
Feb 14 Tropical Transport Mechanism being pushed South by descending Low, Credit: NOAA

Atmospheric River Soaks California,
NOAA, February 15, 2019.


Freak Extreme Weather Continues…
"...set records in parts of southern California. The National Weather Service reported 10.1 inches of rain fell Thursday at Palomar Observatory northeast of San Diego, the wettest day there since observations began in 1901."

Ca Washed by Fire Hose
"...flood warnings are still in effect from Sacramento to Redding, where more downpours are possible through Friday evening."

NOAA Wrong, or Misstating
"...these long, narrow regions of the atmosphere carry enormous amounts of moisture over thousands of miles, from as far away as Hawaii."

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UW Study: Exposure to Glyphosate in Roundup Dramatically Increases Cancer Risk



Scene of the Crime
The Glyphosate Molecule
 The glyphosate molecule. Credit Monsanto & Benjah-bmm27 for the image.
Credit Monsanto for glyphosate & Benjah-bmm27 & Wiki for the image.


We’ve Been, “Rounded-Up”

UW study: Exposure to chemical in Roundup increases risk for cancer,
University of Washington. February 13, 2019.


“Exposure to glyphosate--the world's most widely used, broad-spectrum herbicide and the primary ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup--increases the risk of some cancers by more than 40 percent...”

“...a comprehensive review of existing literature--and focused on the most highly exposed groups in each study. They found that the link between glyphosate and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is stronger than previously reported.”

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Winter 2019 Status: Tropical Transport & Storms of February 13

STATUS of the WINTER of 2019


NASA MODIS reveals the Instantly Intense Winter of 2019
NASA MODIS reveals the Instantly Intense Winter of 2019, Credit NASA, MODIS team.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired these natural-color images of the difference a year makes; the Sierra Nevada on February 15, 2018, and February 15 of 2019. Credit NASA, MODIS team.

Also check-out MODIS, Feb 13, 2015

Scroll the Year on MODIS above to review Today's Sierra,
especially the 11th.


Tropical Transport & Storms of February 13

A Strong Start to Sierra Snowpack,
NASA Earth Observatory, February 13, 2019.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

More Antarctic Lakes, Increasing Ice Shelf Instability


Ice Shelf Meltwater Rock & Roll


Meltwater Lake Ice Rebound Mechanism
Diagram showing how a floating ice shelf bends (and may also fracture) in response to the filling and draining of a meltwater lake. Adapted from Fig 1. Banwell et al 2013. GRL.
Diagram showing how a floating ice shelf bends (and may also fracture) in response to the filling and draining of a meltwater lake. Adapted from Fig 1. Banwell et al 2013. GRL


More Lakes, Increasing Instability

Ice shelves buckle under weight of meltwater lakes,
University of Colorado at Boulder, February 13, 2019.


 “...observed an Antarctic ice shelf bending under the weight of ponding meltwater on top, a phenomenon that may have triggered the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf.”

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Undersea Gases Could Superheat the Planet


Hydrate-Capped Undersea Carbon Reservoirs


CO2 Bubbles from Sea floor Hydrothermal Vent
CO2 Bubbles from Sea floor Hydrothermal Vent, Photo/Bob Embley, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.
Bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide float out of the seafloor at a vent on Northwest Eifuku volcano off the coast of Japan. (Photo/Bob Embley, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration)


Undersea gases could superheat the planet,
University of Southern California, February 13, 2019.


"We know there are vast reservoirs of carbon gas at the bottom of the oceans. We know when they were disrupted during the Pleistocene it warmed the planet.“

Nasty, Icy Slurries
“...expanses of carbon dioxide and methane accumulating underwater and scattered across the seafloor. They form as volcanic activity releases heat and gases that can congeal into liquid and solid hydrates, which are compounds stuck together in an icy slurry that encapsulates the reservoirs.”

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North American City Climates will shift Hundreds of Miles in One Generation


Will Shift? Will Shift Further? Has Been Moving Rapidly

 Apparent Geographic Climate Shift by 2080s
 Apparent Geographic Climate Shift by 2080s, Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
Average urban dweller is going to have to drive more than 500 miles to the south to find a climate similar to their home city by 2080. Credit to Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Interactive Geographic Climate-Shift Map


Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation,
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, February 12, 2019.


Traveling in Place
“In one generation, the climate experienced in many North American cities is projected to change to that of locations hundreds of miles away—or to a new climate unlike any found in North America today.”

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Some Deep Mosquito & Malaria History: In Gondwana Land?


100 Million Year Old Malaria-Capable Mosquito
Cretaceous mosquito in amber, photo OSU.
Cretaceous mosquito, photo credit to OSU


Some Deep Mosquito & Malaria History

Mosquitoes that carry malaria may have been doing so 100 million years ago,
Oregon State University, February 11, 2019.


"...a new genus and species of mosquito, which was named Priscoculex burmanicus. Various characteristics, including those related to wing veins, proboscis, antennae and abdomen indicate that Priscoculex is an early lineage of the anopheline mosquitoes."

Old Freeking Skeeters
“This discovery provides evidence that anophelines were radiating – diversifying from ancestral species – on the ancient megacontinent of Gondwana because it is now thought that Myanmar amber fossils originated on Gondwana...”

"Most malaria...that infect(s) humans and other primates, is...spread mainly by anopheline mosquitoes."

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Ars Technica Reviews Recent Sea Ice, Sea Level Research

Refining the Ice-Melt and Sea-Level Rise Models

Looks Like at Least 24 inches by 2100

Two sea level studies have some good news, bad news,
ArsTechnica, February 11, 2019.


Testing the basis of a new ice analysis that called for 3 foot sea rise due to Antarctic melting alone.

Refining its, “...estimate of sea level rise from Antarctic ice in the mid-Pliocene 3 million years ago...”


New Study’s Antarctic-Driven Sea Level Rise
Best 2100 Sea Level Analysis:

One Meter at Fringe,
15 to 45 cm Range
15 cm most likely

“...the new study shows that the most common result is lower than the average result shown in the original study...a few model versions get up to that full meter of sea level rise from Antarctic ice loss by 2100.
The most common result with the ice cliff process is about 45 centimeters (assuming no greenhouse gas emissions reductions). Without the new ice cliff physics, the most common result is about 15 centimeters—which is still higher than the estimated range given in the last IPCC report.”


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Greenland Ice Cores link Arctic Sea Ice Loss to Abrupt Climate Events



Ancient Greenland Ice
Ancient Greenland Ice. Greenland ice cores provide a record of past climate. By British Antarctic Survey.
Greenland ice cores provide a record of past climate. By British Antarctic Survey.


Big Changes Here, More Coming

Arctic sea ice loss in the past linked to abrupt climate events,
British Antarctic Survey, February 11, 2019.


Sea Ice Reductions of the Past
Dansgaard-Oeschger Events
“...study on ice cores shows that reductions in sea ice in the Arctic in the period between 30-100,000 years ago led to major climate events. During this period, Greenland temperatures rose by as much as 16 degrees Celsius.”

Greenland Can Rise +16C in Less than a Decade…
“...sea ice changes were massively significant in past climate change events in the North Atlantic. These periods, called Dansgaard-Oeschger events2, are some of the fastest and largest abrupt climate changes ever recorded. During some of these events, Greenland temperatures are likely to have increased by 16 degrees Celsius in less than a decade.”

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2019 Tree Mortality Report: Forest Succession Underway, Continuing Through 2018


Great Swaths of Ultra-Dry Death Cut the Sierra Forests
 UC Merced
Many trees in the Sierra have died in the past few years because of drought. From, Can our forests survive the next drought? Credit: UC Merced.


Forest Succession Underway, Continuing

Survey Finds 18 Million Trees Died in California in 2018,
US Forest Service, Feburary 11, 2019.


Tree Mortality Continues
“The USDA Forest Service announced today that an additional 18 million trees, mostly conifers, died in California since fall 2017.”

California Count
“Over 147 million trees have died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local and private lands in California since the drought began in 2010.”

Over, but Extreme Weather Continues...
“While the 2016-2017 winter officially ended California’s drought, below-average precipitation recorded in 2017-2018 slowed the recovery of the state’s surviving trees.”

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Synchronized Hive Ventilation: How bees Stay Cool on Hot Summer Days


The Wing-Beat of Bees
When it gets hot inside the nest, bees use their wings as fans to draw hot air out and allow cooler air to move in, Video courtesy of Jacob Peters/Harvard SEAS.
When it gets hot inside the nest, bees use their wings as fans to draw hot air out and allow cooler air to move in, Video courtesy of Jacob Peters/Harvard SEAS.

Bee More Understanding

How bees stay cool on hot summer days,
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, February 8, 2019.


“When it gets hot inside the nest, a group of bees crawl to the entrance and use their wings as fans to draw hot air out and allow cooler air to move in. The question is, how do bees self-organize into these living ventilating units?”

Environmental Adaptation
The Social Solution to Physical Problems
“Over millennia, social insects such as bees have evolved to harness and exploit flows and forces and collectively solve physiological problems such as mechanical stabilization, thermoregulation and ventilation on scales much larger than the individual.”

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