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High Sierra Backpacker | The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide's Magazine & its Backpacker Trails & Topics Forums

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

Recent Rapid 88 Percent Decline of Big Freshwater Animals



Alligator Gar
Alligator gar, by Zeb Hogan, Forschungsverbund Berlin.
With a maximum weight of about 130 kilograms, the alligator gar (wiki) is one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America. By Zeb Hogan, Forschungsverbund Berlin.


Already Outrageous Human Population Still Rising -- Nature Crashing Rapidly

88 Percent Decline of Big Freshwater Animals,
Forschungsverbund Berlin, August 8, 2019.


"Freshwater megafauna include all freshwater animals that weigh 30 kilograms or more, such as species of river dolphins, beavers, crocodiles, giant turtles and sturgeons."

1970 to 2012
88% Decline
"From 1970 to 2012, global populations of freshwater megafauna declined by 88 percent - twice the loss of vertebrate populations on land or in the ocean."

Major Decliners
"Large fish species such as sturgeons, salmonids and giant catfishes are particularly threatened: with a 94 percent decline, followed by reptiles with 72 percent."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

PFAS. What's Really Inside Your Body?




What's Really Inside Your Body?

California 1st State to Require Notification of Toxic 'Forever' Chemicals in Water,
Desert Sun, July 31, 2019.


PFAS Reporting
"California's law would mandate that consumers receive information on about 5,000 of them if they're detected."

"The PFAS chemicals, which have been widely used in everything from firefighting foam to Teflon pans, rain gear and even some dental floss, have been linked in research to cancers, developmental problems and thyroid and liver disease. They're known as "forever chemicals" because they don't break down in the environment or in human bodies."

SOCAL Contamination
"More than 2.4 million people across Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange Counties may be exposed to the dangerous chemicals, according to estimates by environmental advocates and based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. Major airports, military bases and refineries are all conducting testing or will be, per state requirements. While New Hampshire and New Jersey have imposed limits on two PFAS chemicals..."


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Autism Increase Linked to Endocrine Disruptors in Womb




Keys to Understanding the Mechanisms of Our Degradation of Ourselves & Our Environment

High levels of Estrogen in the Womb Linked to Autism,
University of Cambridge, July 29, 2019. 


"Scientist have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism."

"...further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago."

"Today, the same scientists have built on their previous findings by testing the amniotic fluid samples from the same 98 individuals sampled from the Danish Biobank, which has collected amniotic samples from over 100,000 pregnancies, but this time looking at another set of prenatal sex steroid hormones called oestrogens. This is an important next step because some of the hormones previously studied are directly converted into oestrogens."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Acid Rain Makes Thirsty Forests



Acid Rain Makes Thirsty Forests

Previously unknown mechanism causes increased forest water use, new study says,
Indiana University, July 31, 2019.


New Approach
"The impacts of soil biogeochemistry on large-scale forest water use had not been investigated."

Acid Rain Consequences
"Sulfuric and nitric acid fall to the ground when fossil fuels are burned, causing acidification of the soil. When that happens, a significant amount of soil calcium washes out of the soil, and then plants suffer from calcium deficiency."

Plant Biochemistry
"Calcium plays a unique role in plant cells by regulating the minute pores, called stomata, in the plants' leaves or stems."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Axionic Approach to Dark Matter and The Elemental Universe



The Elemental Universe

Dark matter may be older than the big bang, study suggests,
Johns Hopkins University, August 7, 2019.


Though not directly observable, scientists know dark matter exists by its gravitation effects on how visible matter moves and is distributed in space.

Failed Particle Search
"If dark matter were truly a remnant of the Big Bang, then in many cases researchers should have seen a direct signal of dark matter in different particle physics experiments already."

Scalar Particle
"...the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as the cosmic inflation when space was expanding very rapidly. The rapid expansion is believed to lead to copious production of certain types of particles called scalars. So far, only one scalar particle has been discovered, the famous Higgs boson."

"...if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the Big Bang."

New Search Points
"The new study also suggests a way to test the origin of dark matter by observing the signatures dark matter leaves on the distribution of matter in the universe."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Disturbances in the Force: El Nino & La Nina Ocean-Land Weather Relationship Disruptions




Weather Patterns Breaking Up

How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.,
AGU Blog, August 5, 2019.


The Rule
"The general rule of thumb had been that El Niño years — when the sea surface in a region off the coast of Peru is at least 1 degree Celsius warmer than average — tend to have more rainfall, and La Niña years, when that region is 1 degree Celsius cooler than average, tend to have less rain. But that simple rule of thumb doesn’t always hold true."

2015: Driest Year in Ca History during Biggest El Nino seen…
"About 1 in 20 drought years could see an El Niño that doesn’t deliver rain."

Alex Wierbinski's picture




Greenland Temperatures July 30 vs. Average Temps
Greenland Temperatures July 30 vs. Average Temps, Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS), by Joshua Stevens, NASA.
July 30 Temps compared to Average
Dark Blue, -39F, White = Average, Yellow-Red +39F, Dark Red >46.4F
Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS), by Joshua Stevens, NASA.


Rare Melting Events Becoming Common

Warm Weather Brings Major Melting to Greenland,
NASA Earth Observatory, August 2, 2019.


"In late July 2019, a major melting event spread across the Greenland Ice Sheet. Billions of tons of meltwater streamed into the Atlantic Ocean throughout the month, making a direct and immediate contribution to sea level rise."

"The melting was provoked by a bubble of warm air that moved over Greenland after delivering unseasonably warm temperatures to Europe."

"...the last major melt event on July 11, 2012."

"The difference is that in 2019, the main melt event spanned two days, with a few hours of melt also occurring on July 31."


Alex Wierbinski's picture

NASA Does the PCT from Space





New PCT Emblems, North Yosemite 2016
New, large PCT emblems in the North Yosemite Backcountry, Falls Creek at Wilmer Ford.
New, large PCT emblems, 2016, in the North Yosemite Backcountry, Falls Creek at Wilmer Ford. Hiking Map.


The Ultimate Top Down View

Trailing the Pacific Crest from Space,
NASA Earth Observatory, August 1, 2019.


The Ground-Up View

 An Older Emblem, Same Location
Old PCT emblem, Falls Creek Ford at Wilmer Lake, 2016.


More Information on the
Crown Jewel of the PCT

The Tahoe to Whitney Trails



Trail News, August 2019


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Fungal Antidote for Skunk Spray Found



Skunk, Skeezer, Pixabay.
Skunk, Skeezer, Pixabay.


Antidote for Skunk Spray Found

Fungal Compound Deodorizes Skunk Smell,
American Chemical Society, July 24, 2019.


Skunk Unique Defense
"When skunks feel threatened, they spray fluids from their anal glands that contain several nasty-smelling organosulfur compounds. The human nose can detect extremely low concentrations of these substances, making it difficult to completely rid clothing, hair, fur or skin of the stink."

Human Tech Insufficient
"Available "de-skunking" formulas often either don't work well or can irritate the skin and eyes."

New Fungal Champion
Pericosine A
"...researchers...have identified a compound from fungi that safely and effectively neutralizes skunk spray odor."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

DNC, Devil Never Cares, Paid Pirate's Ransom by Feds, Aramark, & Taxpayers for Yosemite Place Names



Camp Curry
Camp Curry Sign before DNC turned it off.
DNC forces us to pay for our own property...


Devil Never Cares Paid Pirate's Ransom for Yosemite Place Names

Lawsuit Settled Between National Park Service, DNC Parks and Resorts, and Yosemite Hospitality, LLC Over Trademarks and Service Marks,
Yosemite National Park, July 15, 2019.


Classic Yosemite Place Names
"Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, the Wawona Hotel, and Badger Pass Ski Area"

Dealing with Thieves
"DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (Delaware North), the United States of America, and Yosemite Hospitality, LLC (Aramark) have settled the lawsuit filed by Delaware North related to Delaware North’s former concession contract at Yosemite with the National Park Service."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Europe Frequently Frying During Summer of 2019



European Heatwave, July 25, 2019
European Heatwave, July 25, 2019, depicts air temperatures at 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above the ground. The darkest red areas are where the model shows temperatures surpassing 40°C (100°F), Joshua Stevens, NASA.
Yellow: Greater than 77 (25C), Light Red = 95 (35C), Dark Red 113 (45C)
"...depicts air temperatures at 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above the ground. The darkest red areas are where the model shows temperatures surpassing 40°C (100°F)." Joshua Stevens, NASA.


Europe Frequently Frying

A Second Scorching Heatwave in Europe,
NASA Earth Observatory, July 26, 2019.


"On July 25, 2019, at least seven countries broke temperature records in a scorching heatwave. The United Kingdom experienced its hottest July day at 38.1°C (101°F)—0.4°C shy of the all-time UK record. Germany hit 41.7°C (107°F) to set a new record daytime high temperature. Belgium (41.8°C), France, (42.6°C), Luxembourg (40.8°C), the Netherlands (40.7°C), and Scotland (31.6°C) also registered their hottest days ever."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Where are we, Exactly? Mapping the Vast Void in Our Cosmic Neighborhood



A Smoothed Rendition of the Structure Surrounding the Local Void
Local Void in our Neighborhood of the Universe, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

A smoothed rendition of the structure surrounding the Local Void. Our Milky Way galaxy lies at the origin of the red-green-blue orientation arrows (each 200 million lightyears in length). We are at a boundary between a large, low density void, and the high density Virgo cluster. University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Where are we, exactly?

Astronomers Map Vast Void in Our Cosmic Neighborhood,
University of Hawaii at Manoa, July 22, 2019.


"The universe is a tapestry of galaxy congregations and vast voids."

"...our Milky Way galaxy is also at the edge of an extensive empty region that they called the Local Void. The existence of the Local Void has been widely accepted, but it remained poorly studied because it lies behind the center of our galaxy and is therefore heavily obscured from our view."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Pacific Salmon Going Down Hard



Salmon Populations Especially at Risk from Climate Change
Mapping Pacific salmon and steelhead vulnerabilities to climate change. PLOS

Mapping Pacific salmon and steelhead vulnerabilities to climate change. BIG. Credit to PLOS.


Pacific Salmon Going Down Hard

Some Pacific salmon populations are especially at risk from climate change,
PLOS, July 24, 2019.


Climate Change Vulnerable
"Four population groups of Pacific salmon in California, Oregon, and Idaho are especially vulnerable to climate change..."

US Coastal Waters
"To better understand the vulnerability of Pacific salmon, the authors studied 33 threatened or endangered population groups of Pacific salmon, encompassing local populations from the Mexican border to the Canadian border."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Horse Story-Lost Coast Backpacker

 The picture at the bottom of the page was taken at sunset on Usal Beach. And it was the end of an excellent day at Usal Beach, on the Southern end of the Sinkyone State Park, which contains the Southern 14 miles of the Lost Coast. The next day I headed North into the temperate rain forests that characterize the Southern part of Lost Coast.

But that evening I dined on fresh abalone caught by the most interesting person I had ever encountered at Usal Beach.

I had driven my truck in the 6.8 miles on a well-maintained dirt road from an obscure turn-off about 35 miles North of Fort Bragg, California. I had found a nice camp site in the Aspens a bit behind the beach, and I had decided to walk to the beach before sunset.

On the grassy flat just before the beach, there was a strange site. There was a horse grazing about a hundred yards from an old '40s red and white international pick-up. The truck was strangely equipped, with chuck wagon style boxes set-up along the length of the bed's sides. Their downward opening doors made shelves, on which there was a Coleman white-gas four-burner, a cast iron skillet, and various food stuffs and cooking implements.


Horse Story-Lost Coast Backpacker
Embed Map: 
Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019 Russian Bee Losses Show Bee Decline an Emerging Global Disaster



Honey Bee Visiting Flowers
Western Honey Bee, Wiki, Louis Docker.
Western Honey Bee, Wiki, Louis Docker.


Russian Bee Losses Make Bee Decline a Global Situation

Russia Alarmed by Large Fall in Bee Populations,
BBC, July 19, 2019.


"...20 regions had reported mass bee deaths...regions include Bryansk and Kursk, south of Moscow, and Saratov and Ulyanovsk on the Volga River."

Causes & Effects
"...might mean 20% less honey being harvested. Some officials blamed poorly regulated pesticide use."

Beekeepers cite Climate
"...beekeepers blamed climate change, noting that late frosts had been followed by a severe heatwave in France."

"Sunflowers and buckwheat are just two of the staple crops pollinated by bees in Russia. Orchards also rely on bees for pollination."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

July of 2019 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index


July 31, 2019









High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature

, 2019

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.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

A World Without Forest Elephants Approaches



Forest Elephant
Forest Elephant, Stephen Blake, Ph.D., Saint Louis University.
Forest elephants engineer the ecosystem of the entire central African forest, and their catastrophic decline toward extinction has implications for carbon policy. Stephen Blake, Ph.D., Saint Louis University.


A World Without Forest Elephants Approaches

Elephant Extinction will Raise Carbon Dioxide Levels in Atmosphere,
Saint Louis University, July 24, 2019.


"One of the last remaining megaherbivores, forest elephants shape their environment by serving as seed dispersers and forest bulldozers as they eat over a hundred species of fruit, trample bushes, knock over trees and create trails and clearings. Their ecological impact also affects tree populations and carbon levels in the forest,...with significant implications for climate and conservation policies."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Now the Whole World is All Warming. Fast.



Cooling Warming Rates Over the Last 2000 Years
Cooling Warming Rates Over the Last 2000 Years, University of Bern.
Global mean warming / cooling rates over the last 2,000 years. Big Version. In red are the periods (each 51 years) in which temperatures increased. Temperatures decreased in the periods in blue. At more than 1.7 degrees per century, the current rate of warming is significantly higher than the expected natural rate of warming, and higher than values for every previous century. Instrumental measurements since 1850 (in black) confirm these figures. University of Bern.

Now the Whole World is All Warming

The climate is warming faster than it has in the last 2,000 years,
University of Bern, July 24, 2019.


"Little Ice Age (from approx. 1300 to 1850)."

"Medieval Warm Period (approx. 700 - 1400)."

"...the team shows that there is no evidence that there were uniform warm and cold periods across the globe over the last 2,000 years."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Bee-Flower Mismatches Rising with Temperatures



Two Solitary Bees and Their Flower
European orchard bee, the red mason bee and the pasque flower, Sandra Kehrberger, University of Würzburg.
Global warming can disrupt the mutualistic interactions of plants and pollinators as in the case of the European orchard bee, the red mason bee and the pasque flower. Sandra Kehrberger, University of Würzburg.


Bee-Flower Mismatches Rising with Temperatures

How Climate Change Disrupts Relationships,
University of Würzburg, July 24, 2019.


Bee & Flower Imbalanced
"The pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), for example, is very sensitive to rising temperatures by flowering earlier each year, whereas one of its major pollinators, a solitary bee species, does not quite keep pace by hatching earlier. In the worst case, this may cause the seed production of the plant to decrease and impair reproduction while requiring the bee to switch to other plants to forage on to compensate for the lack of food supply."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Global Warming Driving Increase in Numbers and Intensity of Southwestern US Monsoons



Tropical Monsoon Storm Hits East Sierra
 Fall Tropical Storm sucking up dust crossing Deserts before hitting the Eastern Sierra
A Long Voyage for Gulf Mexico Tropical Weather coming across the SW US deserts to smash into the Sierra. Article. Trail Guide.

Further South
Monsoon Clouds Passing Over Phoenix
Monsoon Clouds over Phoenix, Arizona, Wiki, by Syroco
Wiki, by Syroco


Southwestern US Monsoons Increasing and Intensifying

Monsoon Rains have become More Intense in the Southwest in Recent Decades,
US Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service, July 23, 2019.


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The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

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