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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Arctic Plants are Getting Rapidly Taller


Arctic Plants are Getting Rapidly Taller

New plants on the block: Taller species are taking over in a warming Arctic,
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, September 26, 2018.


Arctic Growth Everywhere
"The increase in height we saw was not just in a few sites but nearly everywhere."

Warming Caused
“The researchers identify climate warming as the underlying cause. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen by about 1 degree Celsius in summer and 1.5 degrees in winter over the three decades covered by the study, some of the fastest rates of warming on the planet.”

Spreading Tallness
"Taller plant species, either from warmer pockets within the tundra or from southern areas, have spread across the tundra."

Tall Future
"If taller plants continue to spread at the current rate, the plant community height could increase by 20 to 60% by the end of the century."

Time Bomb
“...the permafrost underlying tundra vegetation contains one-third to half of the world's soil carbon. When the permafrost thaws, greenhouse gases could thus be released.”

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How the Great Plains Were Created


How the Great Plains Were Created

The origins of the High Plains landscape,
ETH Zurich, September 26, 2018.


“Dropping just a few hundred meters over a length of more than 500 kilometres, these plains have only a very gentle gradient and the nearly flat surfaces exhibit unique ecosystems, making them a geological and ecological anomaly.”

“...the groundwater reservoir known as the Ogallala aquifer. At 450,000 square kilometres, it is the largest aquifer in North America.”

“The High Plains were formed 20 million years ago. Earth scientists have recently discovered a zone of unusually hot material in the Earth's mantle that creates a wave of uplift that is slowly shifting from west to east under the continental plate. This wave first uplifted the Colorado Plateau, then the Rockies and finally the plains themselves. This resulted in a steeper gradient of the mountains towards the plains, accelerating erosion. For 15 million years, a massive flow of sediment poured out of the mountains, down the river valleys and into the plains.”

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How DEET Works

Scientists investigate how DEET confuses countless critters,
Rockefeller University, September 26, 2018.


“...shown that DEET acts not by repelling bugs, but rather by confusing them, messing with neurons that help the animals smell their surroundings. Moreover, the effects of DEET are not limited to insects: spiders, ticks, and many other pests also act strangely in the chemical's presence.”

“...DEET may be less of an insect repellent and more of an invertebrate confusant.”

“First developed in the 1940s, DEET can be found in most bug sprays used today. Research has shown that, in flies and mosquitoes, the chemical works by interacting with odor receptors that are unique to insects. This research, however, cannot explain how DEET exerts its effect on non-insect species.”

“The Vosshall lab previously demonstrated that DEET keeps mosquitoes away by interacting with odor receptors in a way that confuses the animals' sense of smell. ”

"The one common theme in all of these organisms is that DEET is doing something to affect odor perception--it's like sensory system sabotage.”


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Arctic Roots of Increasing Extreme Weather


Arctic Warming Increasing Extreme Weather

More persistent weather patterns in US linked to Arctic warming,
Rutgers University, September 26, 2018.


“Persistent weather conditions, including dry and wet spells, generally have increased in the United States, perhaps due to rapid Arctic warming.”

“Persistent weather conditions can lead to weather extremes such as drought, heat waves, prolonged cold and storms that can cost millions of dollars in damage and disrupt societies and ecosystems, the study says.”

“Overall, dry and wet spells lasting four or more days occurred more frequently in recent decades”

“The frequency of persistent large-scale circulation patterns over North America also increased when the Arctic was abnormally warm.”

“In recent decades, the Arctic has been warming at least twice as fast as the global average temperature, the study notes. The persistence of warm Arctic patterns has also increased, suggesting that long-duration weather conditions will occur more often as rapid Arctic warming continues.”

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Eco Crashing News: Cooking the National Parks


Cooking the National Parks

Sept. 25
Effects of Climate Change in National Parks Could Be Lessened




National parks are getting hotter and drier. What’s the outlook for 2100?
McClatchy, September 24, 2018.


Rapidly Rising Temps
“America’s national parks are warming up and drying out faster than other U.S. landscapes, threatening iconic ecosystems from the Everglades in Florida to Joshua Tree in California to Denali in Alaska.”

“...the first to examine rainfall and temperatures in all 417 national parks sites. The study also forecasts the degree that parks could become hotter and more drought-stricken by century’s end, depending on whether nations undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or continue with business as usual.”

"Catastrophic wildfires threaten Yosemite and other national parks in California. In Montana, there is online debate about whether Glacier National Park should soon rename itself, or face accusations of false advertising."

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2018: The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues


The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues

Threatened spring-run chinook salmon are sparse this year,
Chico Enterprise-Record, September 26, 2018.

Main Points

"In Butte Creek, a snorkel survey counted 2,118 fish this year."

"That’s less than half the average since 1989 of 4,427 fish."

"In 2017, only 950 fish were counted."

"The record was in 2001, when the carcass survey turned up 18,312 fish."

The carcass survey

"As a result of the lifecycle, the creeks are full of dead fish after the spawning cycle ends."

"The dead fish are also easy to count."

"...in years when there are a lot of fish, the carcass count is far more accurate than the snorkel count. But in a low year like this one, the snorkel count is probably pretty accurate."

Fish History

"The spring-run used to be the largest of the chinook runs in the Central Valley. But construction of dams like Shasta and Oroville blocked access to the higher-elevation cool water the fish need to survive the summer, and the numbers dropped."

"The spring-run is now listed as threatened on both the state and federal endangered species lists."

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Valley Fever Surging in Our Drying Climate

HEALTH & FITNESS: Crossing the Valley!

Valley Fever Surging in Our Drying Climate

With climate change, Valley fever spreads in California—and this year could be the worst yet,
CalMatters, September 25, 2018.


Rising Numbers
“...reported Valley fever cases set a record in California in 2016, with more than 6,000 infections. That number jumped to 8,103 in 2017, an increase of more than a third—growth many experts link to climate change. This year could be the worst yet.”

Record Year
“...through August this year more than 5,000 cases were reported in California, putting the state on pace for a new record.”

Growing Infections
“We’re seeing double and triple the cases. It’s a catastrophic change, and it’s getting worse.”

“...about 150,000 undiagnosed cases a year.”

Silent Killer
“The most dangerous manifestation is meningitis...and by the time they go to the hospital it’s too late, and I think a lot of people die from it without ever being diagnosed.”

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Megacity Thieves, Grouse, and Ranchers Fight over Diminishing East Sierra Waters


Megacity Thieves, Grouse, and Ranchers Fight over Diminishing Waters

Los Angeles reduces Eastern Sierra water deliveries because of climate change. At risk, ranchers say, is a way of life,
LA Times, September 24, 2018.


Ranchers Out
“...LADWP has for seven decades provided several lessees in the area about 5 acre-feet of water per acre per year, which made their pastures nutritious through the summer and added luster to the area’s hiking, biking and angling hotspots. (An acre-foot of water equals about 326,000 gallons, more than enough to supply two households for a year.)”

“...new 20-year leases for 10 longtime ranchers in area, the department says lessees should anticipate that little to no water will be available for them.”

Grouse Lifeline

“...it would continue diverting about 1,000 acre-feet of water per year to protect the estimated 600 sage grouse in the area, a segment of a subspecies only found along the California-Nevada border.

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SKEETER TECH: Mosquito’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing


Skeeter’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing

Built-in sound amplifier helps male mosquitoes find females,
University College London, September 25, 2018.


“The ears of male mosquitoes amplify the sound of an approaching female using a self-generated phantom tone that mimics the female's wingbeats, which increases the ear's acoustic input by a factor of up to 45,000...”


Bad Dudes
“...studied three mosquito species: the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, the Zika virus and dengue carrying Aedes aegypti and the West Nile virus carrying Culex quinquefasciatus.”


The Objective
“...mate in swarms, which are typically mostly formed of males with only one or a few females entering at a time, so the males need to pick out the sound of an approaching female from the noise of surrounding males. ”


Resonant Amplification
“...investigating why the flagella (lash-like protrusions) of the male antennae (mosquitoes hear with their antennae) can vibrate spontaneously at roughly the same frequency of the female wingbeat.”


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September 2018 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index


September 27, 2018









High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature


September, 2018

Happenings in the relationship between Man and Nature affecting our hike down life's trail through both worlds. We study both the reality created by humans and the uncreated reality reflected in, and tended by Nature. 

The vast majority of our reporting on Nature comes from the American Association of Scientists summarizations of each day's bounty of the peer-reviewed research published by academic institutions and journals around the world.

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UPDATE to STORY; “Cal to Drop Fossil Fuels by 2015;” Some Facts & Figures

Cal to Drop Fossil Fuels by 2045

Some Facts & Figures

The high cost of a zero-emission California,
Calmatters, September 24, 2018.

The Law
SB 100

Costs of "Zero Emission" California

Current Massive Usage
"Californians burn 300 terawatt-hours of juice each year, 70 percent of which is generated in-state and more than 40 percent of which comes from natural gas- or nuclear-powered plants here or elsewhere."

"...so the 127 terawatt-hours of new generation would have to come from wind, solar and/or geothermal – essentially tripling their current output."

Non-Fossil Fuel Restrictions
"...possible to build enough solar and windmill farms to do so, albeit at immense cost, but there’s a corollary problem. They mostly generate during daylight hours, so having their power available 24 hours a day would require huge amounts of storage, presumably in massive battery banks."

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New Tick Safety Strategies Required for Euro Lyme


New Tick Safety Strategies Required for Euro Lyme

Lyme disease: A study on the speed of transmission by infected ticks,
Institut Pasteur, September 21, 2018.


"...evidence of rapid bacterial transmission following a bite, with infection occurring within 24 hours of an adult tick bite and sometimes even sooner for nymph bites. This is a timely reminder of the importance of removing ticks as soon as possible after being bitten to prevent infection."

"Ticks have three lifecycle stages that can bite humans – larva, nymph and adult –, but bacteria are usually transmitted through bites from nymphs, which are higher in density and often go unnoticed because of their small size."

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SB 901 Signed: Bribe-O-Crats Serve their PG&E Corporate Bribe-masters

Bribe-O-Crats Serve their PG&E Corporate Bribe-masters

Two Reports
Merc News & Sac Bee

1> Merc News
The Party Line, but a bit More Critical than the Sac Bee...

Brown signs wildfire safety bill blasted as PG&E bailout,
Mercury News, September 21, 2018.


“...signed bill, SB 901, obliges the powerful state Public Utilities Commission to determine whether a utility can recover its costs and expenses arising from a destructive fire that occurred in 2017. This narrowly worded provision would include the Wine Country firestorms, a number of which have been deemed to be caused by PG&E equipment.”

“When the PUC allows a utility, such as PG&E, to recover its costs, that typically is enabled through higher monthly power bills for consumers.”

“We are very disappointed the governor signed the PG&E bailout bill,” said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a consumer group.”

No Permit Logging, too…

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Cheesy Archeology: Two Blocks of Research, Who’s Got the Oldest Cheese?


Cheesy Archeology: Two Blocks of Research

Who’s Got the Oldest Cheese?

1> Earliest Bad Cheese Found, 3300 Years Old

2> Evidence of 7,200-year-old Cheese





1> Earliest Bad Cheese Found, 3300 Years Old

Earliest 3,300 Year Old Block of Cheese Contaminated with Earliest Brucellosis

World's oldest cheese found in Egyptian tomb,
American Chemical Society, August 15, 2018.

"...thought to be the most ancient solid cheese ever found..."

"The tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis in Egypt during the 13th century BC, was initially unearthed in 1885. After being lost under drifting sands, it was rediscovered in 2010, and archeologists found broken jars at the site a few years later. One jar contained a solidified whitish mass, as well as canvas fabric that might have covered the jar or been used to preserve its contents."

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Best 2018 Weather Assessment at the Footstep of Fall


Weather West Observations & Analysis Rocks the House

Record summer heat across much of state retreats; some deeper thoughts on El Niño,
Weather West, September 18, 2018.

The Best Weather Assessment, & Accords with my observations.

To the fine information about El Nino in the article above, I've got to reinterate that the record-setting intense 2015 El Nino came as the driest season ever seen in the High Sierra & California was happening. It's true that El Ninos can produce monumental tropical flows, but it's also true that nobody knows who & where these flows will hit.


Record breaking July

Record SoCal Sea Surfaces

NoCal Coastal Cool

Interior Record Heat

NoCal Trad Ocean Upwelling

Early Season Heat & Fire, Late Season Cool

No Surprise: Late Heat, Wind, & Fire

El Nino Probability

El Nino Trends & 2015

Extreme El Nino in Future

Bottom Line: Equal Odds of Wet or Dry Winter


Last Weather West Report

Cal to Ride the Tiger: Climate Change Weather Extremes to Lash California

The Future
Looking Perfect Now...

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The Two Sides of the Motivation & Survival Coin


Two Sides of the Coin: Motivation Vs. Laziness in the Pursuit of Survival

Why the brain struggles to get off the sofa,
Université de Genève, September 18, 2018.


“About 30% of adults and 80% of teenagers today do not meet the minimum levels of daily physical activity for staying healthy...”

“Previous studies have already demonstrated that there is a gap between the intention to play sport and actually playing it among individuals with a leaning towards a sedentary lifestyle.”

“...what happens in the brain to prevent intention being followed by action?”

“...studied the neuronal activity of people faced with making the choice between physical activity and doing nothing.”

“...studied the neuronal activity of 29 people, all of whom wanted to be active in their daily lives without necessarily being so.”

“They noted that the brain requires far greater resources to escape a general attraction to minimising effort. A struggle then breaks out between the desire to do nothing and the physical activity.”

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Moderate warming could melt East Antarctic Ice Sheet


The Old, Cold One is Going Away. Eventually...

Moderate warming could melt East Antarctic Ice Sheet,
University of Queensland, September 19, 2018.


"Antarctica is around twice the size of Australia, with ice sheets several kilometres thick and containing around half of the world's fresh water."

"The East Antarctic Ice Sheet covers about two thirds of the area, and because its base is largely above sea level it was generally thought to be less sensitive to warming climates than the adjacent West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

"However, some areas - like the Wilkes Land Subglacial Basin, directly south of Australia - are below sea level and contain enough ice to raise global sea levels by several metres.”

"We found that the most extreme changes in the ice sheet occurred during two interglacial periods 125,000 and 400,000 years ago, when global sea levels were several metres higher than they are today"

“...the findings were extremely concerning for humanity.”

"The evidence we have suggests that with the predicted 2°C warming in Antarctica - if sustained over a couple of millennia - the sheet would start melting in these locations."


more, associated research report

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Updated September 16




Serious SMOKE Hazard Conditions


All Regional Trail Maps


September 16

Fires Suppressed, Smoke Light or Cleared, Mosquitoes Diminished, Temps looking very comfortable-cool.

Trail Map South
Kennedy Meadows & Sonora Pass South across Emigrant Wilderness

Trail Map North
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Backpacking Map


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Mono Basin Scenic Visitor Center Bighorn Sheep Event


Bighorn Sheep Event, Thursday, Sept. 20

Celebration for the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep,
Sierra Wave, September 9, 2018.


“...an afternoon of Sierra bighorn stories and hands on activities at the Mono Basin Scenic Visitor Center, Lee Vining, CA on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 from 1 to 4 p.m.”

“...activities for people of all ages will include classroom activities presented by Virginia Chadwick, Vice-President of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.”

“Dr. John Wehausen, who has researched bighorn for nearly 50 years, will talk about unusual encounters with bighorn. Elsbeth Otto from CDFW will describe the experience of trekking into the high country to monitor bighorn populations, and Jacqueline Leary from the CDFW will give a presentation on Sierra bighorn lambs.”

“The Sierra bighorn population has reached over 600 animals in recent years—a recovery from a low point of a little over 100 bighorn sheep around 1995.”


The Feds
Mono Lake Ranger District

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The End of Cold, 2018: Ice Caps Racing Away


The End of Cold: Ice Caps Racing Away

Unprecedented ice loss in Russian ice cap,
University of Colorado at Boulder, September 19, 2018.


"In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015..."

"...the ice's previous average speed of about 2 inches per day and has challenged scientists' assumptions about the stability of the cold ice caps dotting Earth's high latitudes."

" “Cold” ice caps, like Vavilov, occur in polar “deserts” with very little precipitation, and they’re normally frozen to their beds, flowing only due to bending of the ice under the force of gravity."

“In a warming climate, glacier acceleration is becoming more and more common, but the rate of ice loss at Vavilov is extreme and unexpected.”

Never Seen Before…
"Scientists have never seen such acceleration in this kind of ice cap before, and the authors of the new paper wrote that their finding raises the possibility that other, currently stable ice caps may be more vulnerable than expected."

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