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

2018: Permafrost Melt Lakes Surges Arctic Methane Release


Permafrost Melt Lakes Surges Arctic Methane Release

Another Greenhouse Effect Trigger-Point: Permafrost Ponds Outgassing MethaneMethane bubbles trapped in the ice on a pond near Fairbanks, Alaska.Image: Credit to Katey Walter Anthony observing, analyizing, and picturing (above) Methane bubbles trapped in ice ponds, the knarly ones pictured above located near Fairbanks, Alaska. Yikes! Another methane bubble image.


Permafrost Melt Lakes Surges Arctic Methane Release

'Abrupt thaw' of permafrost beneath lakes could significantly affect climate change models,
University of Alaska Fairbanks, August 16, 2018.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Two New Climate Analysis: Short Term, A New Form of Climate Analysis. Long Term: Crashing Through Tipping Points



Two New Analysis Predicts Hot Times Ahead in Short and Long Terms

Short Term: A New Form of Climate Analysis,

Long Term: Crashing Through Tipping Points


The Short Term

2018-2022 expected to be abnormally hot years,
CNRS, August 14, 2018.


"This summer's world-wide heatwave makes 2018 a particularly hot year."

The "...global warming hiatus."

A New Method of Prediction
"...does not use traditional simulation techniques. Instead, it applies a statistical method to search 20th and 21st century climate simulations made using several reference models to find 'analogues' of current climate conditions and deduce future possibilities."

"The precision and reliability of this probabilistic system proved to be at least equivalent to current methods, particularly for the purpose of simulating the global warming hiatus of the beginning of this century."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Einstein’s Equivalence Principal Goes Down the Quantum Rabbit Hole


Einstein’s Equivalence Principal Goes Down the Quantum Rabbit Hole

Does it Come Back in One Piece?

Einstein’s equivalence principle updated with a dash of quantum,
Ars Technica, August 14, 2018.


"...the heart of Einstein’s theory of gravity (general relativity) is the equivalence principle. The equivalence principle says that there is no difference between being stationary and subject to gravity tugging you and accelerating in a vehicle that's free of gravitational pull."

"This equivalence has been measured time and time again with no violation ever found. But these tests assumed that quantum mechanics didn’t change the equivalent principle: that assumption is partially wrong."

"Quantum formulation of the Einstein equivalence principle"

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Climate Change News: North China Plain Rapidly Becoming Uninhabitable


North China Plain Rapidly Becoming Uninhabitable

Along with South Asia & Persian Gulf: Deadly Heat Rising Rapidly around the World


China could face deadly heat waves due to climate change,
MIT News, July 31, 2018.

“This spot is just going to be the hottest spot for deadly heat waves in the future, especially under climate change,” says Professor Elfatih Eltahir."Image, thanks to MIT, “This spot is just going to be the hottest spot for deadly heat waves in the future, especially under climate change.”

North China Plain [NCP].

Incidence Rate Ratio [IRR] per degree Celsius.

Representative Concentration Pathway [RCP] 4.5 is a scenario that stabilizes radiative forcing at 4.5 Watts per meter squared in the year 2100.

4.5 & 8.5 are higher levels of energy demand and CO2 production.

The Map Targets temp outcomes of the various RCP scenarios by 2100.



"One of the world’s most densely populated regions may push the boundaries of habitability by the end of this century, study finds."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

GEO-CLIMATE NEWS: Sea Level Rise Assures Bigger Tsunamis


Sea Level Rise Assures Bigger Tsunamis

Climate change sea level rises could increase risk for more devastating tsunamis worldwide,
Virginia Tech, August 15, 2018.


"Our research shows that sea-level rise can significantly increase the tsunami hazard, which means that smaller tsunamis in the future can have the same adverse impacts as big tsunamis would today."

"...created computer-simulated tsunamis at current sea level and with sea-level increases of 1.5 feet and 3 feet in the Chinese territory of Macau. Macau is a densely populated coastal region located in South China that is generally safe from current tsunami risks."

"It is estimated that sea levels in the Macau region will increase by 1.5 feet by 2060 and 3 feet by 2100, according to the team of U.S.-Chinese scientists."

"At current sea level, an earthquake would need to tip past a magnitude of 8.8 to cause widespread tsunami inundation in Macau. But with the simulated sea-level rises, the results surprised the team."

"The Manila Trench megathrust has not experienced an earthquake larger than a magnitude 7.8 since the 1560s."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

ASTROPHYSICS: Composition of Exoplanets Indicates Universal Soup Looking Uniform


Universal Soup Looking Uniform

Study of material surrounding distant stars shows Earth's ingredients 'pretty normal,'
Goldschmidt Conference, August 15, 2018.

White Dwarf Drawing in, Crushing, and Consuming Planets
White Dwarf drawing in, crushing, and consuming planets.Artist's Impression of White Dwarf eating Planets from NASA, more about this image.


"The Earth's building blocks seem to be built from 'pretty normal' ingredients, according to researchers working with the world's most powerful telescopes."

"Scientists have measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems from up to 456 light years away and compared them to ours, and found that many elements are present in similar proportions to those found on Earth."

"Because of the huge distances involved, their nearby star tends to drown out any electromagnetic signal, such as light or radio waves."

"...look at how the planetary building blocks affect signals from white dwarf stars...it is anticipated that our Sun will become a white dwarf in around 5 billion years. "

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Maturation of Brain Protein Triggers Killer Bee Aggression


Maturation of Brain Protein Triggers Killer Bee Aggression

Substances associated with bee ferocity are discovered,
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, August 14, 2018.


"...may have discovered why Africanized honeybees are so aggressive."

Multi-Species Bio-Chemical Arsenal
"The same compounds had been detected in the brains of flies and mice, where they appeared to regulate food intake and digestion. This evidence provides an example of how behavior evolves differently in different species via similar molecular mechanisms."

"We study the composition of proteins in the glandular systems of wasps, bees, ants, spiders and scorpions. We analyze the individual functions of each protein and its molecular interactions, as well as its molecular structures. That includes these animals' venoms, their chemical communication systems via chemical compounds, and the neurochemistry of the regulation of arthropod behavior via the nervous system."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Attempting to Identify, Understand, & Head-Off Global Frog Mortality


Attempting to Identify, Understand, & Head-Off Global Frog Mortality

Latest Pathogen Test & Recent Frog Medicine

Scientists get new tool to track new pathogen killing frogs,
UCF, August 14, 2018.


New Test
“...a method to screen frogs for an infectious disease that has been linked to mass die-offs of frogs around the world. ”

“…the deadly pathogen Perkinsea...”

“Without frogs, many other species would die.”

“Scientists have narrowed down what's most affecting frogs to three pathogens, including Perkinsea.”

Newly Identified
"Not a lot of people have studied Perkinsea because it has only recently been identified.”

“...the team of researchers found that 25 percent of the frogs they sampled tested positive for the pathogen.”

“...It's most likely at least a co-factor in these extinction events we are seeing.”


What Diseases?

See Earlier Article

Our Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Tick News: Oh-Oh, New, Nasty-Assed Tick in Eastern US


Oh-Oh, New, Nasty-Assed Tick in Eastern US

Asian Longhorned Tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) Asian Longhorned tick, Penn State Extension
Photo Credit: Thanks, Penn State Extension

Two Stories: Eew York Times & Ars Technica


An Invasive New Tick Is Spreading in the U.S.,
Eew York Times, August 6, 2018.

"...is spreading rapidly along the Eastern Seaboard. It has been found in seven states and in the heavily populated suburbs of New York City."

"It’s not known when or how long-horned ticks reached the United States, nor why the species is spreading so fast now."

"In theory, just one female could have produced all the long-horned ticks spreading in the country through asexual reproduction. But Dr. Egizi said she has found three mitochondrial DNA lineages, meaning at least three females arrived."

"Although experts said having a new invader is unsettling, they worry more about deer ticks, lone star ticks and other established species whose ranges are growing as winters get warmer."


Second Story

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Donnell Fire Controversy Begins before Fire's Out



This Incident and Forest Management Policy, Generally

Donnell Fire estimated 20 percent contained,
Union Democrat, August 13, 2018.





Kennedy Meadows
"The Donnell Fire had grown to more than 44 square miles as of Monday afternoon and it was estimated to be about a half-mile from Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station..."

Kennedy Meadows
"A key for the continued survival of the historic Kennedy Meadows resort is the fire has so far remained north of Highway 108 on the east edges of the fire, while the resort and pack station are south of the paved road."

Today's Fire Map, the 14th, (Facecrook)

Carson Iceberg Wilderness Backpacking Map

Alex Wierbinski's picture


Caltrans Reports


Original Story

June Lake Loop Closed

Portion of State Route 158 closed due to mudslide,
Sierra Wave, July 31, 2018.

 “...closed between Silver Lake and Grant Lake. The official location is 7.3 miles south of the north junction of SR 158 & US Hwy 395.  A large mud slide is covering a large portion of the highway. Caltrans crews and CHP are on site directing traffic.  The highway will remain closed overnight and the situation will be reassessed in the morning.”



Highway 158

All Mountain Highways


Trail Guide

USGS TOPO Hiking Map

Donohue to Island Passes, including trails to June Lake

Trail Guide & Schematic Map

Alex Wierbinski's picture

How the Devils Straws is Really “Working:” Political Arrogance, Corruption, Lying, and Cheating

Draining California Dry

How the Devils Straws-(Corporate Politics)-Really “Works”

Water Policy

California Focus: Colossal arrogance in the 'water fix' tunnels,
Hanford Sentinel, August 7, 2018.


Structural, Institutionalized Corruption

"...there is no part of government in this state more arrogant than the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California."

Bribed Politicians Bribe Other Politicians
"After substantial lobbying by Brown, the MWD’s governing board without a public vote this summer committed millions of its customers to pay a large share of the project’s costs."

Funding Private Profits
"...added water charges for millions of customers are pretty much assured."

Free Money
"Agricultural water districts in the San Joaquin Valley that stand to benefit most were reluctant to make similar commitments."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

HEALTH & FITNESS: Salt is not Bad for You


Salt is Not Bad for You

Pass the salt: Study finds average consumption safe for heart health,
McMaster University, August 9, 2018.


"New research shows that for the vast majority of individuals, sodium consumption does not increase health risks except for those who eat more than five grams a day, the equivalent of 2.5 teaspoons of salt."

"Any health risk of sodium intake is virtually eliminated if people improve their diet quality by adding fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes, and other potassium rich foods."

Big Study
"...followed 94,000 people, aged 35 to 70, for an average of eight years in communities from 18 countries around the world and found there an associated risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes only where the average intake is greater than five grams of sodium a day."

Only China
"China is the only country in their study where 80 per cent of communities have a sodium intake of more than five grams a day."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

CLIMATE WARMING NEWS: Heat Dangers Rising, Will Drive Thousands to ER


Heat Dangers Rising, Many Will Suffer

New study predicts warming climate will drive thousands to ER for heat illness,
AGU Blog, August 7, 2018


Expensive Dangers Ahead
"...a new study predicts that in the coming decades the United States’ heat problem will grow more dangerous and expensive."

Today's Emission Trajectory
"...suggests a warming climate will drive thousands more people into emergency rooms across the country and could cost tens of millions more dollars in treatment by 2050."

Reduced Emission Trajectory
"...U.S. emergency rooms could see 28,000 more hyperthermia visits annually by 2050, which could cost roughly as much as $52 million. Extended to 2090, the annual number of visits for hyperthermia could increase by up to 65,000, costing up to $118 million."

Health Threats of Warming Temps
 How our warming climate affects health.
"This table lists the various causes and ways in which climate change affects human health." Chart credit: U.S. Global Change Research Program.

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.

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

TW Emigrant-N Yosemite TRAILS
Highway 108 to Highway 120 Trail Guide


Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018, Hot Times in SoCal: Record Warm Waters off Southern California


Hot Times in SoCal

Record Warm Waters off Southern California,
NASA Earth Observatory, August 8, 2018.

New Records in Water and Sky
"California has seen a range of natural extremes this summer, from heat waves to wildfires. The state can now add to the list record-warm ocean temperatures. On August 1, 2018, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography observed water temperatures of 25.9 degrees Celsius (78.6 degrees Fahrenheit) along the coast at La Jolla, exceeding the previous record of 25.8°C (78.4°F) set in 1931."

Scripps Pier Records Highest Ocean Temperature in its 102-year History

Record Setting Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) August 2, 2018
"The map above shows sea surface temperature anomalies on August 2, 2018..."
Chart Credit: NOAA Coral Reef Watch

Alex Wierbinski's picture

BIRD NEWS: New Normal of Death & Decline in Mojave


New Normal of Death & Decline in Mojave

Mojave Desert birds crashed over the last century due to climate change,
University of California - Berkeley, August 7, 2018.

Desert Bird Populations Crashed-Crashing
"Bird communities in the Mojave Desert straddling the California/Nevada border have collapsed over the past 100 years, most likely because of lower rainfall due to climate change..."

43% of Mojave Site-Species Lost
"30 percent, or 39 of the 135 bird species that were there 100 years ago, are less common and less widespread today. The 61 sites surveyed lost, on average, 43 percent of the species that were there a century ago."

Losing Desert Ecosystems (and everywhere else, too)
"California deserts have already experienced quite a bit of drying and warming because of climate change, and this might be enough to push birds over the edge. It seems like we are losing part of the desert ecosystem."

Chained Collapse
"The collapse could have an impact on desert plants that rely upon birds to spread their seeds and for pollination, she said, as well as on a host of creatures that prey on the birds."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Tree Mortality Mitigation: Feds To Remove Millions Of Dead-Dying Trees From California’s Forests



Tree Mortality Mitigation

BLM has a Plan

Feds Want To Remove Millions Of Dead And Dying Trees From California’s Forests,
Capital Public Radio, July 9, 2018.

"The federal Bureau of Land Management wants to remove dead and dying trees from 35 California counties, from Siskiyou to Santa Barbara."

"...this would include prescribed fires and “mastication” work, which is grinding up vegetation and making it less of a hazard."

"The agency estimates trees on between 2,500 and 20,000 acres of land could be cut down, burned, hauled away or chipped."

"BLM says there are 127 million dead and dying trees in California forests. Agencies working through California's Tree Mortality Task Force have removed 1.2 million since February 2015."

“The scope of the problem seems to be expanding.”

"...the plan is to pay particular attention to forest land near power lines, roads, private property and trails used for recreation."


The Bottom Line

I give wildfire a higher chance of removing these trees than I give the BLM...

tmorton23's picture

Mudslide, Hoover Wilderness

Hoover Wilderness


Ted Morton's

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


Bensen Lake Loop Detailed Map

Mudslide, Hoover Wilderness
tmorton23's picture

Smoky Sunrise at Smedberg Lake

Smokey Sunrise at Smedberg Lake
North Yosemite Backcountry


Ted Morton's

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


The Ferguson Fire was picking up destructive force at this time


Bensen Lake Loop Detailed Map

Smoky Sunrise at Smedberg Lake

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