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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Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land


Our Behavior is Equal to, or Worse than Pissing in our Own Drinking Water

Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, November 6, 2018.


Pharmacy in the Creek
“Sixty-nine pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in stream insects, some at concentrations that may threaten animals that feed on them, such as trout and platypus.”

Flying from Creek into Wider Ecosystem
“When these insects emerge as flying adults, they can pass drugs to spiders, birds, bats, and other streamside foragers.”

Global Drugging of Man & Nature
“Pharmaceutical pollution is present in surface waters globally. Drugs enter the environment because most wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to remove them from sewage. Septic tanks, aging pipes, and sewer overflows contribute to the problem.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Ancient Black Hole Engine of Life & Death: Abell 2597




Ancient Engines of Life & Death
Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. Credit ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tremblay et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/Chandra; ESO/VLT.
Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. More...ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tremblay et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/Chandra; ESO/VLT.


Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory,
Infalling and Outflowing Gas Give More Complete Understanding of the Evolution of Galaxies,
National Radio Observatory, November 6, 2018.


A Lively Supercluster
"A billion light-years from Earth lies one of the universe’s most massive structures, a giant elliptical galaxy surrounded by a sprawling cluster of other galaxies known as Abell 2597. At the core of the central galaxy, a supermassive black hole is powering the cosmic equivalent of a monumental fountain, drawing in vast stores of cold molecular gas and spraying them back out again in an ongoing cycle."
(For nine billion years. see CHANDRA main points, below.)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Eighteen Years to the End of the Line for the Massive B-15 Iceberg

UPDATE on the B15 Series of Mega-Bergs
Just Look at that old Mega-berg...
Space Station view of B15T on September 23, 2018, with South Georgia Island to its NW, thanks to NASA!
NASA Space Station view of B15T on September 23, 2018, with South Georgia Island to its NW

It's still almost as large as South Georgia Island, well, at least it's still on the same scale as South Georgia, and dwarfing the South Sandwich Islands to its East & Southeast, even after floating around for 18 years...

B15T Nearing the End of the Line

A Place Where Icebergs Go to Die,
NASA Earth Obsevatory, October 31, 2018.


Canada's BAS PDF Antarctic Map



Earlier Report


Eighteen Years to the End of the Line for Massive Iceberg

Born in 2000, B-15Z Finally Gonna Bite the Dust

End of the Journey for Iceberg B-15Z?
NASA Earth Observatory, June 6, 2018.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Climate Change Triggering Return of New, & Eradicated Mosquitos & diseases


It’s Already Happening...

Could climate change trigger the return of eradicated mosquito-related disease?
University of Bath, November 5, 2018.


New Ranges
“The largest ever study of the mosquito evolutionary tree, going back 195 million years, suggests that present-day climate change could result in the spread and return of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases to new places or areas where they had previously been eradicated.”

Return of the Classics
“...– including malaria, Yellow fever, Zika virus, and Dengue fever – cause millions of deaths each year. While many of these diseases have been eradicated from Europe and are under control in other parts of the world, resurgence is always possible.”

Bonus for the Skeeters
They Like Heat AND CO2
“...the rate at which new species of mosquitoes evolve generally increases when levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are higher. This is concerning because the greater the number of mosquito species, the more potential exists for new ways of vectoring diseases, and perhaps for new variants of those diseases.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Health Effects of Dairy, Salt, Sugar, and Now Protein Consumption Revised-Clarified


Dairy, Salt, Sugar, and Now Protein Consumption Clarified

Researchers show that a high-protein diet does not affect kidney function,
McMaster University, November 5, 2018.


“...challenges the perceived dangers of a protein-rich diet, a notion first introduced in the 1980s which suggested processing large amounts of protein leads to a progressive decline in kidney function over time. ”

“Researchers analyzed data from 28 papers dating from 1975 to 2016, examining the effects of a low/normal protein intake versus higher protein diets on GFR in health individuals. ”

“...the impact of protein on kidney function is much more contentious, particularly its effect on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is a test to measure how well the kidneys filter blood and remove waste. ”

Opposite is True
“...in fact, the evidence shows the contrary is true: higher protein increases, not decreases, kidney function.”

"With these findings, we have shown that a higher protein diet is safe. In fact, it should be viewed as an important tool for muscle health across an entire lifespan."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018: Descent of the Summer Triangle, Rise of the Winter Circle


Descent of the Summer Triangle,
Rise of the Winter Circle

November 3, 2018


At Sunset today we can easily find the Summer Triangle, as its bright stars dominate the center of the sky, directly above our heads.

“Paper” Sky Map
with link to
Digital Star Wheel

Eastern Horizon
We can also observe the first rise of the Winter Circle, with the rise of Capella in Auriga out of the Northeast at Sunset, giving us our first look at the rising Winter Circle at Sunset, an event also marking out for us the beginning of the seasonal end of the Summer Triangle. By 10 pm PST we are watching Orion rise out of the East, and by Midnight we can see the full structure of the Winter Circle risen, as Sirius leading the Big Dog finally rises above the horizon, completing the Winter Circle.

Western Edge
On the other side of our Night Sky, along the Western Horizon at Midnight, we are observing Altair and Vega of the Summer Triangle poised just above the Western Horizon, with Deneb just above them, their descent almost perfectly balanced and timed with the rising bright stars of the Winter Circle rising out of the East.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Socks: Member's Favorite Backpacking Socks

Members' Favorites

Backpacking Socks

 As High Sierra backpackers display a lot of range in foot wear, so too in socks. Sock companies have reciprociated, producing a wide range of socking solutions.

A Thought: When I test and purchase my boots I bring in the sets of inserts I am going to use, along with what I figure will be the primary sock used with that boot. Summer? A medium to light sock. Winter? Heavy socks with maybe even a liner sock...


gbrahaney                               Wigwam Hiker Socks


High Sierra Backpacker's Four Season Gear List

Backpacker's Gear List: Boots & Feet


I typically bring the wool sock for the Backpacking Season. Light for Summer, medium for Spring and Fall, and heavy for Winter. Sock liners come along during some Winter trips.

I will use cotton socks during Heat Waves! They are so much more comfortable during hot conditions.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Stoves: MEMBERS FAVORITES for High Sierra Backpacking

Members Favorites

High Sierra
Backpacking Stoves

We have considerable range of selections from a wide range of fuels and gasses, delivery systems (below), wind shields and pot supports, not to mention the ability to construct a wide range of homemade alchol stoves.

I figure the benefit of some wisdom and experience will help us sort this all out, and find the stove that best suites us. Thus we poll our members for their preferences. Since we have lots of different types of members with lots of different types of goals and experiences we come up with a range of classic solutions.

Well, at least a good place for you to begin your investigation into what's the best backpacking stove for you.



Members Favorite Backpacking Stoves




Hiking 50                       BRS Ultralight

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The Existential Zone


 The Existential Zone

Research increases distance at which supernova would spark mass extinctions on Earth



“The Supernova Kill Zone,”

“The Big Rock from Space,”

along with


and Humans:

Q: Which term above is different from the others?

A: Humans. The other events were not created by will and choice, but by Nature.





Every now and again Nature kills everything on a planet, on a regular basis. This brings up important questions for an evolving life form, once they figure out death is coming for them.

The spectre of inevitable extinction, if not our typical, individual deaths, makes important the broader questions of what are we as living things, and what Nature itself is doing with Life. Nature's "big program" could be used to give some context to our individual lives by understanding what IT is doing and where IT is going, contrasted against our behavior.

tmorton23's picture

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Miles Sign

Rock Island Pass

Into the North Yosemite Backcountry

Yosemite Miles Sign at Boundary between Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness


Rock Island Pass at 10160 feet at the Top of the Hoover Wilderness sports a trail mileage sign at our entry into the North Yosemite Backcountry.


Ted Morton's

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


10,160 feet 



Rock Island Pass

Rock Island Pass Boundary, Hoover and Yosemite Wilderness



South Into Yosemite

Looking Down into Upper Kerrick Canyon from Rock Island Pass



Trail Guide

Bensen Lake Loop Detailed Map

more maps


Editor's Note

Rock Island Pass Yosemite Miles Sign
Alex Wierbinski's picture

2016 Costs of Obesity Exceeded $1.7 Trillion


Destructive Consumption Destroying Mind & Body of Mankind

Economic impact of excess weight now exceeds $1.7 trillion,
Milken Institute, October 31, 2018.


“The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population has increased steadily since the 1960s—from 3.4 percent of adults in 1962 to 39.8 percent in 2016”

Nation of Fatties
“In all, 180.5 million people—or 60.7 percent of the population ages 2 and over—were either obese or overweight.”

1.7 Trillion Dollar Overeating Problem
“The impact of obesity and overweight on the U.S. economy has eclipsed $1.7 trillion (a year), an amount equivalent to 9.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a new...report on the role excess weight plays in the prevalence and cost of chronic diseases.”

"The estimate includes $480.7 billion in direct health-care costs and $1.24 trillion in lost productivity…" (2016)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Wildlife Conservation Society: 77% of Wilderness Gone


Vast Majority of Wilderness GONE

A wilderness 'horror story,'
Wildlife Conservation Society, October 31, 2018.



77% of Wilderness Gone
“...conservation scientists...say that just 23 percent of the world's landmass can now be considered wilderness, with the rest - excluding Antarctica - lost to the direct effects of human activities.”

End of Wilderness
“These results are nothing short of a horror story for the planet's last wild places. The loss of wilderness must be treated in the same way we treat extinction. There is no reversing once the first cut enters. The decision is forever."

Last Land & Sea Refuges
“Various analyses reveal that wilderness areas provide increasingly important refuges for species that are declining in landscapes dominated by people. In the seas, they are the last regions that still contain viable populations of top predators, such as tuna, marlins and sharks.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

At the Center of Our Galaxy: Star Orbits Our Black Hole at 2.7% of Light Speed

Matter Itself Observed Falling into Sag A*



At the Center of Our Galaxy

Star Orbits Our Black Hole at 2.7% of Light Speed
(4971 Miles Per Second)

GRAVITY confirms predictions of general relativity,
CNRS, July 30, 2018.


"Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* Black Hole) sits at the centre of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years from Earth. This black hole, which has a mass 4 million times that of the sun, is surrounded by a star cluster - the S stars - which reach mind-boggling speeds when they approach the hole."

Sagittarius A* and its Star Cluster
Sagittarius A* and its star cluster
Credit, Copyright by Paris Observatory / LESIA

"...to follow one particular star in the Sgr A* system - S2 - before and after it passed close to the black hole on 19 May 2018. GRAVITY achieved a resolution of 50 microarcseconds: the angle at which a tennis ball placed on the moon would be visible from Earth."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Cookware and Utensils: Backpackers Favorites for High Sierra Travel

Members Favorites


Cookware and Utensils

Having the best, simplest setup that serves our food and camp beverage needs keeps everything simple and light.



Surfbum                   Spork 



gbrahaney               Primus EtaPower Group Cookset   POTS AND PANS



cmcrooker                850 mL titanium mug from Mountain Laurel Designs for my pot to cook dinner.



Alex Wierbinski's picture

October 2018 All High Sierra Outdoors & Nature News Index


Last Update
October 31, 2018









High Sierra Backpacker's News
 Man and Nature


October, 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.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?


Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?

Widely used mosquito repellent proves lethal to larval salamanders,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, October 31, 2018.


Chemical Defense
“Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and West Nile virus.”

Natural Defense
“Salamanders provide natural mosquito control. During their aquatic juvenile phase, they forage on mosquito larvae, keeping populations of these nuisance insects in check.”

The Two Don’t Mix
“Chemicals in repellents enter aquatic ecosystems through sewage effluent and are now common in surface waters.”

More Skeeters?
“The paper is the first to suggest that environmentally realistic concentrations of picaridin-containing repellents in surface waters may increase the abundance of adult mosquitoes due to a decrease in predation pressure on mosquitoes at the larval stages.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Lyme disease predicted to rise in United States as climate warms


20% Higher in 30 Years

Lyme disease predicted to rise in United States as climate warms,
Carnegie Mellon University, October 31, 2018.


“...its incidence has risen sharply in the last decade. Since its progression depends on environmental factors, increases in daily temperatures, a manifestation of climate change, might be contributing to a rise in the number of ticks as well as a greater availability of hosts.”

Already Exploding
“The number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States rose from 10,000 in 1991 to about 28,000 annually in the past five years.”

Tick Distribution Mirrors Temp & Humidity
“...ticks spend most of their life cycle outside the host in an environment where temperature and humidity directly affect their development, activity, survival, and host-seeking behavior. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses the number of cases of Lyme disease as an indicator of climate change.”


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Astro News, Its Raining Exoplanets: 100 new exoplanets

Kepler accomplishments at retirement in October, 2018, NASA.
Final Score of Kepler Accomplishments, NASA Graphic

Kepler Space Telescope Retired


Original Story:

Astronomy News
It's Raining Exoplanets

100 new exoplanets

Kepler scientists discover almost 100 new exoplanets,
Technical University of Denmark, February 15, 2018.

"The Kepler spacecraft was launched in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single patch of sky..."

"Today some 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter."




NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope

NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch,
NASA, October 30, 2018.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Long Term Mortality Stats Analyzed


Mortality Stats Analyzed

Young men more likely to die in summer, older people in winter despite local climate,
eLife, October 30, 2018.


“...an analysis spanning nearly four decades...”

“In this study, we set out to comprehensively characterise the patterns of death over different time periods and geographical areas to understand when and where death rates are at their highest and lowest.”

“…data on 85,854,176 deaths in the US between 1980 and 2016...”

“...several distinct seasonal patterns in relation to age and gender:”
> Deaths from overall mortality (any cause of death) in men aged 45 years and older and women aged 35 years and older peaked in December, January or February, and were lowest in June to August

> Deaths from heart and lung diseases were highest in January and February and lowest in July and August regardless of age

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Is the Long Valley Caldera Hot-Cold Water Boundary Secure?


Is the Long Valley Caldera's Hot-Cold Water Boundary Secure?

Is former Olympian a bully or savior in geothermal fight?
E&ENews, October 29, 2018.


Not Contained?
“Hayes, a charismatic former Olympian, says data show the deep geothermal reservoirs used for energy production are not completely contained. They are already contaminating the town's shallower groundwater aquifers, he says, and the problem could get worse when the plant expands production.”

“...that's what Pat Hayes, the area's water manager, wants you to think.”

“The problem for Hayes, though, is it's unclear how much validity there is to those claims.”

“His critics note that Hayes has secured few victories. Courts have strongly rejected his claims, siding with regulators who reviewed the relevant scientific data, as well as a robust groundwater monitoring plan they've put in place.”

“Judge Stan Eller concluded that "available evidence" indicates the groundwater and geothermal systems are separate.”

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