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

Big Changes Coming to Planetary Phytoplankton Distribution, & Colors of Oceans

CHANGING THE OCEANS, ICE, WATER, & TEMPS CHANGES LIFE

Big Phytoplankton Bloom, South Africa, Nov 2018
Bloom of phytoplankton off the south coast of South Africa. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.
Get Ready for Superblooms. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.

 

Big Changes Coming to Planetary Phytoplankton Distribution

Study: Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 4, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Significant Phytoplankton Changes
“Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world’s oceans...”

“...over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean’s color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones.”

The Basic Pattern

Blue Water
“Water molecules alone absorb almost all sunlight except for the blue part of the spectrum, which is reflected back out.”

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New Perspectives on the Hunt for Dark Matter Particles

THE NATURE of REALITY

Dark matter map for a patch of sky in a Kilo-Degree survey.
Dark matter map for a patch of sky in a Kilo-Degree survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO
Kilo-Degree Survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO. More: Wiki

Exploiting Ambiguities in the Standard Model: Axions

Kazan University puts forth ideas on the nature of dark matter,
Kazan Federal University, February 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Scale of Darkness
“...dark energy and dark matter comprise 96% of the total mass of the Universe.”

Current Guesses
“Two main hypotheses about the nature of dark matter are presently debated. One of them posits that dark matter consists of massive compact halo objects, the other ascribes this property to weakly interacting mass particles.”

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Mountain Lion Attack Repelled, Lion Killed in Colorado

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Mountain Lion Attack Repelled in Colorado

 North American Cougar
(Puma concolor couguar)
North American cougar (Puma concolor couguar) in Glacier National Park in the U.S. state of Montana. By the National Park Service.
Glacier National Park in the U.S. state of Montana. National Park Service

 

A Mountain Lion Attacked a Runner. He Choked It to Death and Escaped.
NY Times, February 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“A man running along a trail in Colorado who was attacked by a young mountain lion this week managed to choke it to death and escape...”

“The body of the mountain lion, which officials said was less than a year old and weighed under 70 pounds, was found on the trail near some of the man’s possessions and was taken to a lab for examination.”

“The man, who had been running along the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space — about 65 miles north of Denver...heard “something behind him on the trail,” and when he turned around to see what it was, the lion lunged at him and bit his face and wrist.”

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Remote Petermann Glacier Uncorking Greenland Ice Once Thought Stable

OCEANS, ICE, WATER, & LOTS OF CHANGE

Petermann Glacier's Broken Tongue
ASTER satellite scene acquired shortly after the 2012 calving event on 2012/07/21. Right: Sentinel-2 acquisition on 2018/07/31 indicating newly developing fractures in the terminus region. (Photo Credit to NASA & EU: ASTER; Sentinel-2)
Left: ASTER satellite scene acquired shortly after the 2012 calving event on 2012/07/21. Right: Sentinel-2 acquisition on 2018/07/31 indicating newly developing fractures in the terminus region. (Photo Credit to NASA & EU: ASTER & Sentinel-2)

  

Cracks herald the calving of a large iceberg from Petermann Glacier,
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, February 6, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Petermann Cracked
“Cracks in the floating ice tongue of Petermann Glacier in the far northwest reaches of Greenland indicate the pending loss of another large iceberg.”

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Melting Ice, Glaciers, & Ice Caps: Estimating Dates for Reaping the Whirlwind(s)

OCEANS, ICE, & OUR WARMING CLIMATE

Estimating Dates for Reaping the Whirlwind

Melting ice sheets may cause 'climate chaos' according to new modelling,
McGill University, February 6, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Massive Effects
“...the water from melting ice sheets off Greenland and in the Antarctic will cause extreme weather and unpredictable temperatures around the globe.”

This Research
“..the first to simulate the effects, under current climate policies, that the two melting ice sheets will have on ocean temperatures and circulation patterns as well as on air temperatures by the year 2100.”

3 to 4 Degrees by 2100
“According to our models, this melt water will cause significant disruptions to ocean currents and change levels of warming around the world.”

Fastest Sea Level Increase to Come
2065-2075
“...simulations suggest that the fastest increase in the rise of sea levels is likely to occur between 2065 and 2075. Melting ice sheets will affect water temperatures and circulation patterns in the world’s oceans, which will in turn affect air temperatures – in a complex ice-ocean-atmosphere feedback loop.”

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Brit Forecast Suggests Earth's Warmest Period on Record is ON DECK

ECO-CRASHING NEWS: HOTTER & HOTTER

Brits See Hot Times Ahead

Met Office Calls for Record Temps to 2023
Read 'em & Weep, Cowboys...
 Met Office Calls for Record Temps to 2023, By The Met Office, UK.
Met Office Calls for Record Temps to 2023, By The Met Office, UK. Original.

 

Forecast suggests Earth's warmest period on record,
University of East Anglia, February 6, 2019.

MAIN POINT

What
“...the publication of the latest Met Office decadal forecast to 2023.”

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Northwestern Forest Succession Underway Under Our Changing Climate

PLANTS, FOREST, & TREES

 Northwest Pacific Forest Composition to Radically Change

 The Coastal Range in Central Oregon
Forest from the top of Marys Peak, the highest point on Oregon’s Coast Range, Credit to OSU & Lessa Clayton
View of conifer forest from the top of Marys Peak, the highest point on Oregon’s Coast Range, Credit to OSU & Lessa Clayton for the photo.

 

This Tears the Hundred Year Plan to Shreds...

Climate modeling shows significant shifts in 21st century Pacific Northwest coastal forests,
Oregon State University, February 6, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“...changing climate in the 21st century will significantly alter the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest.”

“Vegetation is projected to change from predominantly conifer to predominantly mixed conifer and hardwood forests.”

Happening Around the World
“...the current forests can be expected to eventually be replaced by trees better adapted to future conditions.”

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2018 NOAA GLOBAL CLIMATE ANALYSIS

 

2018 NOAA GLOBAL CLIMATE ANALYSIS

OMG-LEVEL WARMING
 NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Kathryn Mersmann.
NASA: “Earth's long-term warming trend can be seen in this visualization of NASA's global temperature record, which shows how the planet's temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. The record is shown as a running five-year average.”

Big Version. Good Work Credits to: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio-Kathryn Mersmann

 

Trend Line of Continuous Extreme Heating Driving Climate & Weather Changes

2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe,
The U.S. experienced 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters.
NOAA, February 6, 2019.

 

NASA report

 

MAIN POINTS

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Pretty Pretty Gavin Newsom: How Our Financial-Political-Social Aristocracy Works

Update!

GAVIN: Representative of the, "People."
The Richest People in America...

Gavin's, "Working-Man," Middle-Class Home Life,
Feb 2019.

Or,
"How our Country and People were Robbed of their Natural American Resources and Fundamental Constitutional Rights."

 

 

Original Article

PRETTY PRETTY GAVIN NEWSOM

How Our Financial-Political-Social Aristocracy Works

How eight elite San Francisco families funded Gavin Newsom’s political ascent,
LA Times, September 7, 2018.

 

Observations
on the
Creation, Care, and Feeding of Our Corporate Elite

Pretty-Pretty Gavin Newsom

MAIN POINTS

Gavin Newsom, like his father before him, is a footsolider in the Getty Political Family/Machine.

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Elevation Keys Diverse Pika Population Responses to Changing Climate

SMALL SIERRA NEVADA MAMMALS

American Pika
American Pika, Ecological Society of America, Photo credit to, courtesy of, Shana Weber.
 With their sensitivity to overheating, pikas are an indicator species for how climate change may affect mountain-dwelling wildlife.
Ecological Society of America, Photo credit to, courtesy of, Shana Weber.

 

Elevation Keys Diverse Pika Population Responses to Changing Climate

Pika Survival Rates Dry Up with Low Moisture,
Ecological Society of America, February 4, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

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Pacific Northwest Forest 100 Year Plan in Trouble

PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOREST HEALTH "100 YEAR PLAN"

 

Oregon Old Growth
Oregon Old Growth, OSU College of Forestry.
What needs to be saved: Old Growth Forest. OSU College of Forestry.

 

Human Growth Drives Climate & Weather Changing Too Quickly for Ecosystems

NW Forest Plan 25 Years Later: Wildfire Losses Up, Bird Populations Down,
Oregon State University, February 4, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

100 Year Plan
“Twenty-five years into a 100-year federal strategy to protect older forests in the Pacific Northwest, forest losses to wildfire are up and declines in bird populations have not been reversed.”

Old Forests
“...importance of continuing to prioritize the safeguarding of older forests...forests characterized by a complex structure that includes multiple canopy layers, large trees, downed wood and snags.”

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The Character and Evolution of the High Sierra Winter into the Spring of 2019

 

SETTING a SEASONAL “MARKER”

Almost Dead-Average Snowpack

February 2, 2019
The salient point today, the second of February, is we’ve got a seasonal normal, “average,” snow pack (calendar), while looking at a set of moderately powerful storms coming through, all playing out in the wake of the disruptions created by the great movement of the Polar Vortex, off the top of the planet to center its spin over the North end of Hudson’s Bay, over the past couple of weeks.

Today we can see the Polar Vortex has split into thee, "vortexes," with the one over Hudson's Bay, the one that brought so much frigid Arctic cold air to the South, has weakened in favor of the Vortex to its North:

 

High Altitude View of the Polar Vortex(es)
EARTH

10 hPa, roughly 84,998.2 feet of elevation.

A rough table of pressures and altitudes.

 

NEXT?
Where does, “it,” our Seasonal Transition into Spring, go from, “here?”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

New Mechanisms and Processes of Antarctic Glacial Melting Found in Big Ice Hole

OCEANS, WATER, & ICE on the Bottom of the Planet

 Antarctica from Space, September 21, 2005
Antarctica from Space, September 21, 2005, NASA Scientific Visulation Studio.
Credit to NASA Scientific Visulation Studio

 

New Mechanisms and Processes of Antarctic Glacial Melting Found

Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay,
NASA, January 30, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Ice Hole
“A gigantic cavity — two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall — growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study...”

In a Big Ice Hole in the Thwaites Glacier
 NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck

Credits: NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck

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DEET Resistance Aids Transmission of West Nile Virus

SKEETER REALITY CHANGING

DEET Resistance Aids Transmission of West Nile Virus

Aedes Aegypti
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, By Muhammad Mahdi Karim.
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. "...Originally found in tropical and subtropical zones, but now found on all continents except Antarctica, " WikiImage by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

 

Insecticide resistance genes affect vector competence for West Nile virus,
Institut Pasteur, January 31, 2019.

Main Points

Skeeter Resistance Rising
"...the overuse of insecticides leads to the selection of mosquitoes with insecticide resistance genes. Insecticide resistance has been reported to affect interactions between mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit."

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New Level of Extinction Stress Drives Science Forward!

THE RAPID RISE of EXTINCTION STUDIES

 Creatures Subject to Heat Induced Fertility Risk
Many creatures at risk of heat-related fertility-decline extinction. Image by Joaquim Alves Gaspar, Charles Sharp, Toby Hudson, and David Glass, UL.
Many creatures at risk of heat-related fertility-decline extinction. Image by Joaquim Alves Gaspar, Charles Sharp, Toby Hudson, and David Glass, UL. Caption.

 

New Level of Extinction Stress Driving Science Forward!

Climate change and infertility -- a ticking time bomb?
University of Liverpool, January 31, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

CTL
The Death Temperature
“...most of the data on when temperature will prevent species surviving in an area is based on the 'critical thermal limit' or CTL - the temperature at which they collapse, stop moving or die.”

End of Sex Temperature
"There is a risk that we are underestimating the impact of climate change on species survival because we have focused on the temperatures that are lethal to organisms, rather than the temperatures at which organisms can no longer breed."

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Pursuing the Cosmological Constant Closer to the Big Bang by the Light of Quasars

 

LOOKING BACK THROUGH TIME & SPACE REVEALS INCREASING EXPANSION

 

Galaxy, Quasar, & Black Hole Interactions Reveal Scale of Cosmic Expansion
 NASA/CXC/Univ. of Florence/G.Risaliti & E.Lusso

Galaxies with Quasar & Black Hole provide a New Scale of Cosmic Expansion, Credit Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Florence/G.Risaliti & E.Lusso

 

Pursuing the Cosmological Constant Closer & Closer to the Big Bang

Astronomers Find Dark Energy May Vary Over Time,
NASA-CHANDRA, January 28, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Measuring more and more distant quasars more and more accurately has allowed astrophysicists to measure the acceleration in the rate of expansion of our universe.

The Quasar Cosmic Scale of Measurement

"...astronomers tracked the effects of dark energy to about one billion years after the Big Bang by determining the distances to quasars, rapidly growing black holes that shine extremely brightly."

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Rossby Waves Tie Together Extreme Rainfall Events Around the World

WEATHER, CLIMATE, & ROSSBY WAVES

Vast Troves of Big Data, New Methods, and Supercomputers Find Deep Relationships

Extreme rainfall events are connected across the world,
Imperial College London, January 30, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Rossby waves have been connected to regular rainfall, but this study is the first to connect them to extreme rainfall event patterns.

Big Data
“...the team developed a new method rooted in complex system theory to study high-resolution satellite data of rainfall. The data comes from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and covers the region between 50 (degrees) North and South since 1998.”

Hidden Patterns
Better Future Models & Forecasts
“Uncovering this global pattern of connections in the data can improve weather and climate models. This is especially true for the emerging picture of couplings between the tropics and the European and North American regions and their consequences for extreme rainfall.”

“...revealed a possible mechanism for how the events were connected.”

“...very surprising relationships between extreme rainfall events in different regions around the world.”

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Exercise Improves Thinking Skills of People as Young as 20

HEALTH, FITNESS, EXERCISE, & NATURAL ENGAGEMENT

Fix them All with your Regularly-Used Wilderness Backpack...

Exercise may improve thinking skills in people as young as 20,
American Academy of Neurology, January 30, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or climbing stairs may improve thinking skills not only in older people but in young people as well...”

“...positive effect of exercise on thinking skills may increase as people age.”

Executive Function Improvements
“The specific set of thinking skills that improved with exercise is called executive function. Executive function is a person's ability to regulate their own behavior, pay attention, organize and achieve goals.”

Engage Nature
"As people age, there can be a decline in thinking skills, however our study shows that getting regular exercise may help slow or even prevent such decline."

Clear Results
“Researchers found that aerobic exercise increased thinking skills.”

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Ocean Ecosystems Under Siege: Sea Star Decline Reverberates

CLIMATE CHANGING OCEAN LIFE

Ocean Ecosystems Under Seige

Sunflower Star
Underwater photograph of sick and dying sunflower star, by Ed Gullekson
Underwater photograph of sick and dying sunflower star. Image by Ed Gullekson

 

Key sea star predator wiped out by disease and abnormally warm waters,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, January 30, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

End of the Sea Star
“From California to British Columbia, the abundance of sunflower starfish - an important predator in the Northeast Pacific - declined dramatically in both nearshore and deep waters from 2013 to 2015...”

Wasting Disease
“From 2013 to 2015, an event known as the sea star wasting disease (SSWD) killed massive numbers of starfish along North America's west coast, from Alaska to Mexico.”

Hot Water
“...report an association between the sunflower star decline in shallow waters, and warmer sea surface temperatures.”

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Camping Tents Grossly Exceed Chemical Safety Standards

HEALTH & SAFETY

CHEMICAL FIRE RETARDANTS

Balanced between Chemical & Fire Safety?
Wilderness Camp Fire
Stove leak caught up terrain, me, and my tent.
Houston, we have a problem. The previous evening, a stove problem while cooking dinner inspired me to quickly use the bedroll, lower Left, to put out the rapidly-spreading tent fire.
I am amazed I was able to contain the rapidly-spreading nylon fire. Also note the disturbed terrain where I kicked out the line of fire between the stove and tent...

 

Tent camping could lead to flame retardant exposure,
American Chemical Society, May 11, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“...many tents sold in the United States are treated with flame retardants.”

“...found that flame retardants used in the manufacturing of tents are released in the air within this enclosed space, which could lead to campers breathing them in.”

“...some of these compounds are associated with reproductive and developmental problems.”

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