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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Hubble in Safe Mode as Bad Gyros Studied


Hubble in Trouble?


Fine image of Hubble in Space, NASA.
Fine Shot of Hubble in Space, photo credit NASA.

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed,
NASA, October 8, 2018.



 “Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed. Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation.”

“Hubble had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one.”

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Expect More Extreme Weather


Extreme Weather

OU meteorologist expects severe drought and heavy rain events to worsen globally,
University of Oklahoma, October 25, 2018.


“A University of Oklahoma meteorologist...expects severe drought and long-lasting rainfall events to worsen in the future.”

"The Caribbean and Central America will have more extreme droughts and the north and northeast of North America can expect more extreme heavy rain events. Around the world, some places will see droughts and heavy rain events become more intense, longer lasting and more frequent. For the agriculture and related industries, this is particularly important."

Drought and Flood…
“Even regions that are projected to become drier overall, like the Southwest and South Central United States, are expected to see more severe, longer and frequent periods of heavy rain. Martin refers to the May 2015 rain event in Oklahoma and Texas as one example of what could be expected in the future.”

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Latest in Gravity Wave Detection and Analysis, October 2018


Gravity Wave Detection and Analysis

Two Articles Below

LIGO, Gravity, & The Search for the Hubble Constant,
U-Chicago, October 22, 2018.

LISA Detector: Three Laser-connected Satellites Orbiting Sun to Detect Gravity,
U of Zurich, October 22, 2018.



First Gravity Wave Detections

1st LIGO Gravity Wave Detection: Black Holes Eating Each Other

2nd LIGO Gravity Wave Detection: Neutron Stars Colliding



Article 1

Using Gravity to Find the Hubble Constant

In 5 to 10 years, gravitational waves could accurately measure universe's expansion,
University of Chicago, October 22, 2018.


“Pinning down the exact rate of expansion, called the Hubble constant...”

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Supercold Martian Brines Hold Enough Oxygen to Support Life?


Mars through Hubble: Life now? In the Past?
Mars through the Hubble Space Telescope.
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI


Lake Mars & Its Unique Brines may be (were?) a Microbe Swimming Hole?

Supercool brines on Mars may contain enough oxygen to support aerobic life,
ArsTechnica, October 25, 2018.


“Atmospheric oxygen both enables complex life and is a hallmark of it.”

“There is hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere surrounding Mars”

O2 on Mars?
“...it's possible some oxygen is dissolved in any watery brines that could exist at or just below the Red Planet’s surface. Geologists at CalTech and Harvard have analyzed exactly how much oxygen these brines could hold and found that it might be just enough.” (for complex life)

Bizarre Brines
“...brines on or just beneath the Martian surface have a much lower freezing point than pure water because of the magnesium and calcium perchlorate salts they contain. They can supercool down to 140 to 150 Kelvin while staying liquid, and cooler liquids can dissolve more gas.”

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Court Ruling to Preserve the Last of the Salmon?


Preserving the Last of the Salmon?

West’s rivers are hot enough to cook salmon to death. Will this court ruling keep them cool?
Sac Bee, October 23, 2018.


River-Cooked Salmon
"...salmon being cooked to death by the thousands in rivers that have become overheated as water flows dwindle."

Stop Cooking Salmon
"...a federal judge in Seattle has directed the Environmental Protection Agency, in a ruling with implications for California and the Pacific Northwest, to find a way to keep river waters cool."

"...ruling last week was sparked by an ecological catastrophe in 2015, when an estimated 250,000 sockeye salmon died on the Columbia and Snake because the waters got too warm. In California, more than 95 percent of juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon perished in the Sacramento River in 2014 and 2015 when temperatures spiked during the worst of the drought."

“...it must develop a plan to keep water temperatures low in the Columbia River and its main tributary, the Snake, to protect multiple varieties of salmon and steelhead that are covered by the Endangered Species Act.”

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A Shitty HEALTH & FITNESS Situation: Microplastics Are Everywhere!


Microplastics Everywhere!

Microplastics Are Turning Up Everywhere, Even In Human Excrement,
NPR, October 22, 2018.


Most people are full of shit (especially NPR), and now we know their shit is full of plastic… It makes sense, if you think about it…

Thin, but Wide Sample
“...researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria, looked at stool samples from eight individuals in eight different countries: Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the U.K. and Austria. Every stool sample tested positive for up to nine different plastic types, with an average of 20 particles of plastic per 10 grams of stool.”

“...all eight stool samples contained polypropylene and polyethylene-terephthalate particles, which are major components of plastic bottle caps and plastic bottles.”

The Test
“...each person ate their regular diet and kept a food diary in the week leading up to their stool sampling. All participants were exposed to plastics by consuming foods that had been wrapped in plastic as well as beverages in plastic bottles. None of the participants were vegetarians, and six of them consumed wild fish.”

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Devils Hole in Amagosa Desert Points to Dry Future


Devils Hole in Amagosa Desert Points to Dry Future
Into the Devils Hole
Into the Devils Hole, Amagosa Desert. Photo Credit Robbie Shone.
Photo Credit Robbie Shone, University of Innsbruck.

Climate change: US desert areas to become even drier,
University of Innsbruck, October 24, 2018.


"The Devils Hole cave system, named after its bottomless depths, provides a window into the vast desert aquifer below. The cave system is home to a peculiar type of calcite deposit. As groundwater slowly passes through the cave, calcite precipitates layer by layer on the rock walls. "These thin layers have been accumulating on the walls for nearly one million years."

"The height of ancient deposits in Devils Hole cave tell us how high the water table was in the past."

"...the Innsbruck team used special drilling equipment to collect calcite deposits from several points above and below the current water table. The ages of the deposits were then determined using the thorium-uranium method."

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End of Sleeping Sickness? Zambezi Too Hot for Tsetse Flies?


End of Sleeping Sickness?
Ever Seen a Tsetse Fly?
Bloodsucking insects that cause sleeping sickness in humans. Photo by Judy Gallagher.
Now you have! Photo Credit to Judy Gallagher

"Photo Caption: Tsetse flies are bloodsucking insects that carry the trypanosome parasite which causes sleeping sickness in humans. They occur exclusively in sub-Sahara Africa."

Zambezi Valley may soon be too hot for tsetse flies,
Stellenbosch University, October 23, 2018.


"A new study, based on 27 years of data from Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, suggests that temperature increases over the last three decades have already caused major declines in local populations of tsetse flies."

Precipitous Decline
"Since the 1990s, catches of tsetse flies from cattle in the park declined from more than 50 flies per animal per catching session in 1990, to less than 1 fly per 10 catching sessions in 2017. Since 1975, mean daily temperatures have risen by nearly 1° C and by around 2° C in the hottest month of November."

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New Caledonian Crows Create Compound Tools


A Time in History when Birds were Smarter than Humans?


New Caledonian crow with a stick tool.

New Caledonian crow with a stick tool, Image by Auguste von Bayern of the  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

Image by Auguste von Bayern of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

New Caledonian crows can create compound tools,
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, October 24, 2018.


"...New Caledonian crows are able to create tools by combining two or more otherwise non-functional elements, an ability so far observed only in humans and great apes."

"...these birds can create long-reaching tools out of short combinable parts - an astonishing mental feat."

"...anthropologists regard early human compound tool manufacture as a significant step in brain evolution."

"Such anticipation, or planning, is usually interpreted as involving creative mental modelling and executive functions."

"...the same species as Betty, who became famous in 2002 as the first animal shown to be able to create a hooked tool by bending a pliable material."

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LA Rain Creates Shit-Storms of Filth/Typhus


Filth Rains Down on Megacity Madness

LA Rain Creates Shit-Storms of Filth/Typhus

L.A.'s stormwater is so filthy it's illegal,
LA Times, October 22, 2018.


Megacity Filth
"The stormwater that streams down our streets and into our creeks and rivers is heavily polluted. Oil, gasoline, industrial runoff, heavy metals and many tons of trash are carried by the rain, untreated, straight to our waterways and ocean. This pollution destroys ecosystems, kills wildlife and dirties our beaches. Not to mention that billions of gallons of much-needed (filthy) fresh water drain out to sea."

Megacity Filth
"L.A. County and the surrounding region has for decades been required to comply with the Clean Water Act, which makes it illegal to allow stormwater pollution to flow into the ocean and other waterways. For decades, the county and its 88 cities have largely ignored the law’s mandates, perhaps in hopes that the costs of compliance could be deferred."

Economic Costs of Megacity Filth
"As soon as 2020, L.A. County and its municipalities will face millions, if not billions, in fines for violating the Clean Water Act. These fines will be passed on to tax payers and businesses."


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Rural Kids Experiencing Digital Destruction?



Rural Kids Experiencing Digital Destruction?

Do It for the Kids?

Modern conflict: Screen time vs. nature,
North Carolina State University, October 22, 2018.


Rural Kids
"Even rural kids today spend more time in front of screens and less time outdoors, according to a new study of middle-school students in South Carolina."

"...asked about 550 rural students to report the amount of time they spend in nature (outdoor time) and the amount of time they spend using electronic media (screen time) over an average week. They found that screen time eclipsed outdoor time for most students, and that these gaps increased significantly in older youth."

Lost Natural World
“This is a problem because connection to nature plays a positive role in young people’s physical health and psychological development.”

Urban Nightmare
“Issues related to safety and access create barriers to outdoor recreation for diverse urban youth,...but this study shows that time in nature may be slipping even among rural students.”


Bottom Line

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ARCTIC ICE, 2018: Beauford Sea Instability Points to Arctic Ocean Transformation


Beauford Sea Instability

Arctic ice sets speed limit for major ocean current,
MIT, October 17, 2018.


"The Beaufort Gyre is an enormous, 600-mile-wide pool of swirling cold, fresh water in the Arctic Ocean, just north of Alaska and Canada. In the winter, this current is covered by a thick cap of ice. Each summer, as the ice melts away, the exposed gyre gathers up sea ice and river runoff, and draws it down to create a huge reservoir of frigid fresh water, equal to the volume of all the Great Lakes combined."

"...the Arctic’s ice cover essentially sets a speed limit on the gyre’s spin."

Warming Effect
"...with less ice available to control the Beaufort Gyre’s spin, the current has sped up in recent years, gathering up more sea ice and expanding in both volume and depth."

"With no governor to limit its speed, the researchers say the gyre will likely transition into “a new regime” and eventually spill over, like an overflowing bathtub, releasing huge volumes of cold, fresh water into the North Atlantic, which could affect the global climate and ocean circulation."

Atlantic Consequences
“If all this fresh water is released, it will affect the circulation of the Atlantic.”

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Status of the High Sierra, October 16, 2018

Status of the Season

October 16, 2018

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BIRDS & INSECTS, A Shared Decline


A Shared Decline

Original article, below, Oct 17:

Swallow decline linked to Climate & Bugs


Updated October 19:

Ecosystems Failing

Insects Are Rapidly Disappearing Around The World, Leaving Scientists Horrified,
Science Alert, October 19, 2018.


"Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations."

"Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest's insect-eating animals have gone missing, too."

45% Decline in 35 Years
"...in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent."

76% in German Forests
"...a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves."

We're Doing It
"...implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates."

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Video Four: Packing a Five Day Food Supply for easy storage and weather protection

The Youtube Video that lives here
Breaks Security:
Video #4, Properly Packing a Five Day Food Supply
Full five day Wintertime backpacking food supply, packed tight and waterproof.
Five day backpacking Food Supply, packed tight and waterproof



Video Four
Packing it Dry and Tight

Now that we have figured out our route, the miles and amount of days it will take to complete our route,  we have determined the number of meals and snacks that will provide us with 3000 calories per day. Now we have to pack our food both to fit easily in our pack, to be readily hung from a tree, and to protect it against the elements and river fording problems.

Video Two: 
Food, Part One: Planning a Five Day
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Rock Island Pass Yosemite Boundary Sign

Rock Island Pass
Yosemite Trail Boundary Sign
Marking Boundary between Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness

Ted Morton's

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

10,160 feet



Rock Island Pass between Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness



Rock Island Pass Yosemite Miles Sign


Editor's Note

Rock Island Pass at 10160 feet at the Top of the Hoover Wilderness sports a, "classic," Yosemite Boundary Sign at our entry into the North Yosemite Backcountry.

Trail Information
The next trail boundary sign like the one above is where our route over Bond Pass on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail brings us into the top of Jack Main Canyon in the most Northwestern Corner of Yosemit National Park. That's a couple of hiking days North of our current position. Check out the trail guide here;

Bond Pass

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Boundary Sign
Alex Wierbinski's picture

New fly species, Lucilia cuprina, found in Indiana Indicates Changing Climate


As Fast As Possible

New fly species found in Indiana may indicate changing climate, says IUPUI researcher,
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science, October 19, 2018.


Lucilia cuprina
“A new type of blow fly spotted in Indiana points to shifting species populations due to climate change.”

"There is definitely a northward movement of species -- not just insects, but all species -- as they try to find temperatures where they are more comfortable."

Bottom Line

Trees, birds, bees, beetles, and even the flies are all migrating North as fast as they can, before it's too late.


Warming Insects

Crop Losses due to Insects could nearly Double in Europe's Bread Basket

Beetles Devastate Billions of Western Pine Trees
Heat, Droughts, Beetles, & Fires All Continue Rising

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Pando in Trouble: Massive organism is crashing on our watch


Pando in Trouble

  Pando Grove in fall foliage at Dr. Creek Campground, Utah, image by Paul C. Rogers.
 Pando Grove in fall foliage at Dr. Creek Campground, Utah, image by Paul C. Rogers.

Massive organism is crashing on our watch,
S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, October 17, 2018.


The Pando
"...considered the world's largest single organism weighing in at an estimated 13 million lbs. (5.9 million kg). Covering some 106 acres (43 ha) in south-central Utah's Fishlake National Forest, the clonal colony consists of more than 47,000 genetically identical above-ground stems or "ramets" originating from a single underground parent clone. Quaking aspen, Pando's iconic species, was named Utah's State Tree in 2014 and, among numerous values, is considered a staple of scenic montane landscapes in the American West. Rogers sees trends found at Pando occurring across the western states"

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Arctic Greening Thaws Permafrost, Boosts Runoff


More Permafrost Problems

Arctic greening thaws permafrost, boosts runoff,
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory, October 17, 2018.


"...investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north's tundra and vast permafrost system."

"...investigated interactions among shrubs, permafrost, and subsurface areas called taliks. Taliks are unfrozen ground near permafrost caused by a thermal or hydrological anomaly. Some tunnel-like taliks called "through taliks" extend over thick permafrost layers."

Massive Changes to Ancient Ecosystems
"...confirmed that shrubs can lead to significant degradation of the permafrost layer that has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years. These interactions are driving increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes and oceans."

"If the trend of increasing vegetation across the Arctic continues, we're likely to see a strong increase in permafrost degradation."

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Two Neutron Stars Orbiting: The Origin of Binary Neutron Stars


Looking at a Ultra-Stripped Supernova?

Palomar 60-inch telescope image of Ultra-Stripped Supernova iPTF14gqr, Courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
Palomar 60-inch telescope image of the "Ultra-Stripped," Supernova iPTF14gqr? It fits the profile! Courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Two Neutron Stars Orbiting…

Little supernova is big discovery: The origin of binary neutron stars,
National Institutes of Natural Sciences, October 12, 2018.

Wiki: Neutron Star



How the Heck do two massive neutron stars end up orbiting each other, when each is, “produced,” through the process of supernova, one of the most violent processes of stellar destruction and elemental production we know about?

Well, a supernova explosion rates far below the power produced when one of these orbiting neutron star pairs eventually collide, a collision which appears to be the final engine of elemental creation in our dimensional spaces, cranking out the gold, platinum and uranium we value so highly.

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