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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June 2019 Mount Whitney Missing Hiker Search Finds Fatality




The Whitney Zone

Mount Whitney Fatality,
Mono SAR, June 20, 2019.

Mount Whitney
East Flank: John Muir Wilderness in Inyo NF
West Flank: John Muir Wilderness in SEKI


Mount Whitney Trail Map
Tyndall Creek to Whitney Portal Map



Missing Hiker Search
Mutual Aid
"...contacted for a mutual aid request in support of the search for a 47-year-old Virginia hiker in the Mt. Whitney area missing since June 12. 4 Team members responded, and were assigned a search area to the north of Mirror Lake."

Area Search
"The field team concluded the search of their area without any evidence of the missing hiker. They returned to base via the Mt. Whitney trail."

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Inyo Sheriff June 2019 Temple Crag Rescue



Temple Crag Rescue,
Inyo Sheriff, June 17, 2019.

Temple Craig
The Palisades
John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest
East of Bishop Pass, West of Big Pine, Permits


Rockfall Accident
"On June 15 at around 5:45pm, a male and female party of two were "simul-climbing" (a climbing technique where all climbers climb at the same time while tied into the same rope) the technical rock route “Sun Ribbon Arete” on Temple Crag in the Palisades region of the Sierra Nevada. At about 12,600’ (about 200' from the summit) a rock broke causing the second climber to fall about 20-30’ before being caught by their rope. The team sent a distress signal via their Personal Locator Beacon, and ultimately Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified."

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Mono SAR June 2019 Mt Morrison Rescue



CHP H40 Rescue Copter Framed by Mount Morrison
H40 landed at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport, Mount Morrison in background. Mono SAR Photo.
"H40 landed at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport," Mount Morrison in background. Mono SAR Photo.


Eastern Sierra Accident

Mt Morrison Rescue,
Mono SAR, June 11, 2019.


Mount Morrison
In the John Muir Wilderness of the Inyo National Forest. I don't currently have a map depicting Mt Morison, but it is located a short distance off the East edge of this map from Lake Genevieve. This map depicts the route of the JMT-PCT over the Silver Divide, which locates Mount Morrison on a line between the Silver Divide and the Mammoth Airport, on the Eastern Flank of the Sierra overlooking the Airport, as we can see in the image above.

"...respond to a report of a 68 year old male from Chalfant, CA, injured in a fall on the south side of Mt. Morrison, at an approximate elevation of 11,200’."

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Carson Iceberg Wilderness Backpacking Loops and Trips

Medium and Long distance
Backpacking Loops
and trips
in the
Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Despite the Fire, Some Beautiful Places to Visit
Summer's Here. The Eastern end of the Carson Iceberg is pretty much closed South of Clarks Fork Road, excepting the route of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is complimented by the still open segment of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail coming South down from Lake Alpine to Woods Gulch.
Now, prospective Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hikers will need to make use of our alternative routes, just to get around the closed section of the TYT across the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

Alternative Year...
The route tying together what we can hike of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail across the Carson Iceberg, then connecting with the Pacific Crest Trail as described below, is where we can bend our route either North into a nice Summer Backpacking trip, maybe ending at Ebbetts Pass despite the carnage of last year's Donnell Fire, or turning South along the PCT to bypass these closed segments of the TYT, so we can hike South to Sonora Pass along the PCT, to pick up the TYT again by hiking South out of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.


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Tioga Road Limited Opening June 21, 2019



First Highway 120 Opening for 2019 Season

Yosemite National Park Announces Limited Access on Tioga Road Beginning on Friday, June 21, 2019,
Yosemite National Park, June 19, 2019.


Limited Access
"...open to all vehicles, including bicycles, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm."

No Parking
"...no visitor parking available at either end of the road closure."

Tuolumne Meadows Closed
"There are no visitor services available along Tioga Road. The Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, Wilderness Center, and the Tuolumne Meadows Campground remain closed."

"Opening dates for the 2019 season have not been determined."

"The road will remain closed outside of these times to allow for continued roadwork and snow clearing."

"Cyclists traveling over Tioga Road will need to be prepared to cross over the full length of Tioga Road during daylight hours. Tioga Road is closed to overnight camping."

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News of Climate & Ecological Change, The Summer & Fall of 2019





Updated Daily 

October 15,  2019


Summer & Fall

The transitions between seasons, their basic character, their timing, temp, and humidity transitions have all changed. The directions from which the seasonal winds blow have changed. These changes are reverberating through and disrupting webs of life that wrap around the whole planet.

Blooming, feeding, mating, and migration patterns of all living things are changing around the world.

Here we track the obvious and the subtle human affects on Nature. The club and the knife, if you will.


Previous Reports-Research

Spring of 2019

Winter of 2019

2018 Climate News

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Global Warming Spruce Beetles are Fat, Happy, Sexed-Up Spruce Beetles



Hey, Hi,... I'm Your New Neighbor...
The Head of a Spruce Beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis)
The Head of a Spruce Beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis), Joseph Benzel, Colorado State University.
Joseph Benzel, Colorado State University.


Warm Spruce Beetles are Fat, Happy, Sexed-Up Spruce Beetles

New Research Shows Importance of Climate on Spruce Beetle Flight,
Colorado State University, June 19, 2019.


Current Situation
"...the current spruce beetle epidemic affecting Colorado Engelmann spruce forests has been one of the largest on record. The Colorado State Forest Service estimates that since 1996, over 40 percent of the state's high-elevation forests, encompassing an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, have already been affected by this latest cycle."

The Future
"...slightly warmer conditions could contribute to longer flight periods and more eruptive beetle populations, due to larger populations of fertile females. This combination could equate to more intense insect pressure on spruce forests."

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US Commercial Bees Taking Heavy Losses in 2018, Hanging in There...



Bees in the Hive at Roberson Farm
Bees in the Hive at Roberson Farm, Farmers.Gov.
Bees at Roberson Farm, FarmersGov.

US Bee Status Report

Commercial Bees Taking Heavy Losses, Hanging in There...

US Beekeepers Lost Over 40% of Colonies Last Year, Highest Winter Losses Ever recorded,
University of Maryland, June 19, 2019.


41% Hive Loss
"Beekeepers across the United States lost 40.7% of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019..."

Over-Wintering Losses
"...winter losses of 37.7%, which is the highest winter loss reported since the survey began 13 years ago and 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average."

The New Normal?
"Overall, the annual loss of 40.7% this last year represents a slight increase over the annual average of 38.7%."

Grim Long Term Trends
"Just looking at the overall picture and the 10-year trends, it's disconcerting that we're still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss."

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Biggest Global Glaciers Going Down Fast: The Himalayas



Wasting Himalayan Glacial Ice
Wasting of Changri Nup Glacier in Himalayas, Joshua Maurer.
Changri Nup Glacier, one of the hundreds studied by the researchers. Much of it is covered by rocky debris. The peak of Mt. Everest is in the background at left. Joshua Maurer.


Biggest Global Glaciers Going Down

Melting of Himalayan Glaciers has Doubled in Recent Years,
Earth Institute at Columbia University, June 19, 2019.

Main Points

2000 to Present
Losing a Foot of Ice per Year
Himalayan glaciers in, "...India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, indicates that glaciers have been losing the equivalent of more than a vertical foot and half of ice each year since 2000..."

Thaw Accelerating
"...double the amount of melting that took place from 1975 to 2000."

Major Threat to Billions
"...potentially threatening water supplies for hundreds of millions of people downstream across much of Asia." (See, "Disappearing Buffer," below.)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Monkeys Face Climate Change Extinction Threat



Guatemalan Black Howler
Guatemalan black howler (Alouatta pigra) in Belize Zoo. Dave Johnson.
Guatemalan black howler (Alouatta pigra), a New World Monkey in the Belize Zoo. Dave Johnson, Wiki.


Background of Destruction

Monkeys Face Climate Change Extinction Threat,
University of Stirling, June 12, 2019.


Global Monkey Trouble
"...a large percentage of non-human primates - including monkeys, lemurs and apes - are facing substantial temperature increases and marked habitat changes over the next 30 years."

Esp New World
"New World monkeys - which live primarily in tropical South America - will be particularly affected."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Clearer View of Greenland Ice Melting Potentials



Study Predicts More Long-Term Sea Level Rise from Greenland Ice
Study Predicts More Long-Term Sea Level Rise from Greenland Ice, NASA / Cindy Starr.
"The researchers ran their model 1500 times, testing a variety of land, ice, ocean and atmospheric variables to see how they affected ice melt rate - including three possible future climate scenarios (from left to right: low, medium, and high emissions out to the year 2300). Credits: NASA / Cindy Starr."


Clearer View of Greenland Ice Melting Potentials

Study Predicts More Long-Term Sea Level Rise from Greenland Ice,
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, June 19, 2019.


Data from Ice Bridge Observations
“NASA’s space and airborne campaigns, like IceBridge, have fundamentally transformed our ability to try and make a model mimic the changes to the ice sheet.”

Fancy New Model
"In the next 200 years, the ice sheet model shows that melting at the present rate could contribute 19 to 63 inches to global sea level rise..."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Worse Idea in the World: Bicycles in Wilderness



Coming to the "Wilderness Area" Near You!

Watchout Below! Bikes on Wilderness Trails is a Bad Idea.
This Will be legal in our "Wilderness Areas," if the bicycle industry's bribes pay off...enjoy dodging/dealing with bikes on the PCT & JMT... Image by, "12019," Pixabay.


Worse Idea in the World: Bicycles in Wilderness

Sen. Lee Reintroduces Wilderness Bill,
Bicycle Retailer, June 12, 2019.


The Bill
"Sen. Mike Lee...Utah Republican..."

"...Senate bill S. 1695, the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act..."

"...allow local managers to permit bicycles on existing trails and roads in federal Wilderness areas."

"The bill does not require creating trails or modifying existing ones to facilitate bicycling or other human-powered uses. It calls for the character of a Wilderness area is to be preserved."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Lawsuit Asks: Drought, Beetles, & Forest Mortality Justifies Chainsaws in Wilderness?

Updated June 17: Forest Service Reverses Decision

Updated May 31: Behind the Decision Allowing Chainsaws


The Situation
Sierra Nevada & Rockies
Massive Western Forest Mortality
Dying Sierra Trees, from UC Merced, can they survive another drought?
Dying Sierra Trees, from UC Merced, can they survive another drought?


Drought, Beetles, & Mortality Justifies Chainsaws?

Forest Service Sued over Decision to use Chain Saws in Wilderness Areas,
The Journal, May 22, 2019.


"A coalition of conservation groups has sued the U.S. Forest Service for its recent decision to allow chain saws for trail work in two wilderness areas in Southwest Colorado."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Star Operations, Supernova Explosions, & Neutron Star Collisions: How Elements are Created



Original Article

Star, Supernova, & Neutron Star Collision Element Production

Supernova 1987a
Boom Goes the Massive Star
 NASA/CXC/SAO/Penn State/D. Burrows et al.; Optical: NASA/STSci; Millimeter: NRAO/AUI/NSF.
Supernova: Engines of Heavy Metals and Mothers of Neutron Stars. Chandra X-Ray Obs Composite image of Supernova 1987a.


118 known elements
How they Came to Be


Periodic table
Elements #2 through 25 forged in stars. Their fuel, Element #1, was created in the Big Bang.


Create Series of Elements in their Nuclear Furnaces
Starting with #1, Stellar Element Production is Limited to Iron, #26

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Bacteria Defeats Last Effective Antibiotic



Salmonella Resistant to Antibiotics of Last Resort Found in US.
North Carolina State University, June 13, 2019.

MCR-3.1 in US
"...found a gene that gives Salmonella resistance to antibiotics of last resort in a sample taken from a human patient in the U.S. The find is the first evidence that the gene mcr-3.1 has made its way into the U.S. from Asia."

Full Antibiotic Resistance
"The drug resistance gene in question - known as mcr-3.1 - gives Salmonella resistance to colistin, the drug of last resort for treating infections caused by multidrug-resistant Salmonella."


Original Article

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Second Fastest, Largest C02 Growth in 2019, Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit Record Peak in May

Carbon Dioxide Reaches Record Levels, Plus 6 Things to Know About the Greenhouse Gas,
NASA Earth Observatory, June 14, 2019.

Global CO2
Global CO2, NASA.
NASA, read more about this image measuring global CO2 here.


Original Article

Oceans of Hot Air

Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit Record Peak in May,
Monthly average surpassed 414 parts per million at Mauna Loa Observatory,
Scripps Institute of Oceanography, June 4, 2019.


CO2 Over the Top
"...the average for May peaking at 414.8 parts per million (ppm)..."

"...highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of...Mauna Loa..."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Extreme Weather Increasing, Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More



West Houston, Texas
West Houston Texas, After Hurricane Harvey, NOAA Image.
After Hurricane Harvey, NOAA Image, more.


Extreme Weather Increasing

Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More,
NASA Earth Observatory, June 7, 2019.


Extreme Rainfall Hurricanes
Recently Stalled/Parked Hurricanes
'18, Hurricane Florence, "...lingered in a confined region near the North Carolina coast for 53 hours, becoming the wettest tropical cyclone on record for the Carolinas."

'17, "Hurricane Harvey stalled for more than 100 hours in the northern Gulf of Mexico, pumping disastrous amounts of moisture into Texas."

'08, "Tropical Storm Fay hovered near Florida for at least 66 hours and became one of the most prolific rain-producing storms in the area."

Longer is Stronger...
"...those stalls were not freak occurrences, but instead fit with a growing trend of slower, longer-lasting hurricanes in the North Atlantic."

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Weed is a Very Old Medicinal & Fiber Crop



"The Chimney"
Oldest Weed Smoker in Existence
The typical brazier and burnt stones in ancient Pamirs. Xinhua Wu, at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
The typical brazier and burnt stones in ancient Pamirs. Xinhua Wu, at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


Weed is a Very Old Medicinal & Fiber Crop

The Origins of Cannabis Smoking: Marijuana use in the First Millennium BC,
Max Planck Institute, June 12, 2019.


"Cannabis plants were cultivated in East Asia for their oily seeds and fibre from at least 4000 BC."

Little Evidence
"Despite being one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world today, there is little archaeological or historical evidence for the use of marijuana in the ancient world."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Clothing's Plastic Fibers Surprising Ocean & Beach Distribution




Beach of Tarragona
Southeastern Edge of Spain
Beach of Tarragona, Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
The researchers are analysing samples of sea water, marine sediment and sand from Tarragona beaches. Universitat Rovira i Virgili.


Plastic is Everywhere & In Everything

57% of the Plastic Waste on the Tarragona Coast is Clothing Fibers from Washing Machines,
Universi,tat Rovira i Virgili, June 10, 2019.


Unexpected in Remote Areas
Plastic Poisoning Source
"...that up to 57% of all the plastics analysed from sea water are microscopic fibres from clothes, which flow into the treatment plants and which are only partially removed before the water is finally discharged into the sea."

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2019 Dead Zones at Record Size & Expanding



Dead Zones at Record Size & Expanding

1>Gulf Mexico --&-- 2>Chesapeake Bay


1>Gulf Mexico

2019 'Dead Zone' may be the Second Largest on Record,
Louisiana State University, June 10, 2019.

Main Points

Second Biggest on Record
"A recent forecast of the size of the "Dead Zone" in the northern Gulf of Mexico for late July 2019 is that it will cover 8,717-square-miles of the bottom of the continental shelf off Louisiana and Texas. The unusually high Mississippi River discharge in May controls the size of this zone, which will likely be the second largest zone since systematic measurements began in 1985."

"The water mass with oxygen concentrations less than 2 parts per million forms in bottom waters each year primarily as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus loading from the Mississippi River watershed, which fertilizes the Gulf of Mexico's surface waters to create excessive amounts of algal biomass."

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