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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

FUNGAL Disaster on Our Horizon?



Fungus, Yellow, Eagle Creek, Toiyabe Wilderness
Fungus, Yellow, Eagle Creek, Toiyabe Wilderness.
Fungus, Toiyabe National Forest, Mokelumne Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail between Carson and Ebbetts Pass at Eagle Creek below Reynolds Peak.


FUNGAL Disaster on Our Horizon?

Rise of Candida Auris Blamed on Global Warming,
American Society for Microbiology, July 23, 2019.


"...C. auris, which is often multi-drug resistant and is a serious public health threat, may be the first example of a new fungal disease emerging from climate change."

Super-Fungal Forge
"Global warming may have played a pivotal role in the emergence of Candida auris, according to a new study..."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

US Wells Chasing Disappearing Groundwater Ever Deeper



Groundwater Well Drilling Equipment in California's Central Valley
Looks like a rocket, but one pointed at the blood of the Earth... Photo Credit: CHAD RESS, UCSB.


Original Research

Drilling Deeper,
University of California - Santa Barbara, July 22, 2019.

After-market Article

In the US, wells being drilled ever deeper as groundwater vanishes,
Ars Technica, July 25, 2019.


Not Sustainable
"...current levels of groundwater use are not sustainable: resources are being steadily depleted as groundwater use outpaces natural replenishment."


Recent Research
The Destruction of American Groundwater


March 2019
Our Frightening Groundwater Future of, Fright, Flight, & Fight


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Life Moving with Changing Climate and Seasons




African Bird Breeding in UK
African Bird in UK, European Bee-eater, Zoological Society of London.
"The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is one of the species moving with climate change, traditionally breeding in Africa, southern and central Europe and East Asia -- they have reportedly bred in Nottinghamshire."


Life Moving with Climate Changes

Species on the move,
Zoological Society of London, July 18, 2019.


"...A total of 55 animal species in the UK have been displaced from their natural ranges or enabled to arrive for the first time on UK shores because of climate change over the last 10 years (2008-2018)..."

The Study
"The analysis also considered UK Government environment reports as well as 111 scientific papers, leading to a total of 55 species (out of 39,029 species in the UK) being identified. The research focused solely on species which had established sustainable populations through natural, rather than human-assisted movement."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Carol Crooker Trip Report Desolation Wilderness Lollypop Loop.

Carol Crooker Trip Report
Desolation Wilderness Lollypop Loop.
Member Profile


Trip Statistics
Lower Echo Lake North PCT
to Middle Velma Lake.
West to Camper Flat.
South to Lake Aloha,
PCT to Lower Echo Lake

Distance & Duration
40 miles in 9 Days
June 9 to 18, 2015

Temps and Weather
33 degrees and the highest was 83 degrees

Starting Pack Weight
About 32 pounds

Trail Guide Resources 
Desolation Wilderness Map

Detailed Map of Carol's Route

Trail Guide
Lower Echo Lake Trailhead

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit


Alex Wierbinski's picture

BIRD BRAINS? Chickadees Understand Complex Sound Emotions at Distance



Black-Capped Chickadee
Black-Capped Chickadee, kriswaid, pixabay.
Black-Capped Chickadee, kriswaid, pixabay. Note the  beak on the bird in the image with the research notice below kind of looks like a Jackdaw (??), whatever it is, but not a Chickadee, not with that beak...


Complex Emotions Understood at Distance

Hear them roar: How humans and chickadees understand each other,
University of Alberta, July 12, 2019.


"The idea is that some species can understand other species' vocalizations."

"For instance, a songbird is able to understand the call of distress of a different type of songbird when they are in the presence of a predator, like an owl or a hawk. Or, for example, if your friend scared you and you screamed. Both of these are high-arousal vocalizations, and being able to understand what that sounds like in a different species can be very useful."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Changing Timing of Life Bleeding Fertility Out of Nature, The Case of the Japanese Bumblebees



Big Jap Bumbler & Its (Once) Perfectly Timed Plant Pal
Jap Bumblebee Visits Corydalis Ambigua after Overwintering, Yuimi Hirabayashi (Bihoro Museum), Hokkaido University.
Coming in for Landing: A far Northern Japanese Bumblebee visits Corydalis ambigua after overwintering, by Yuimi Hirabayashi (Bihoro Museum), Hokkaido University.


Changing Timing of Life Bleeding Fertility Out of Nature

Early arrival of spring disrupts the mutualism between plants and pollinators,
Hokkaido University, July 12, 2019.


Bummer for Jap Bumblers & Flowers…
"...demonstrated that early snowmelt results in the spring ephemeral Corydalis ambigua flowering ahead of the emergence of its pollinator, the bumblebee."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Cautionary Levels of Blue-Green Algae in Lake Isabella



Warming Climate & Human Runoff Turning Waters Green

'Potentially harmful' blue-green algae found in Lake Isabella, lake users should exercise caution,
Bakersfield Californian, July 10, 2019.


The Kern County Public Health Services Department, "...received water samples from eight different locations in Lake Isabella, and two water samples indicated the presence of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, at a cautionary level. This type of algae can be considered potentially harmful."

Main Page

Watch Out for the Green Water: Blue-Green Algae News and Safety Information

Recent Blue-Green Algae News, Research, & Information

Nitrogen Runoff & Algal Blooms Increasing Due to Global Warming

Summer of 2018: Watch Out for the Green Water, Salem Oregon Water Supply Compromised

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Loggerhead Turtles Face Extinction due to Global Warming



Loggerhead Turtles
Loggerhead turtles in Cape Verde, University of Exeter, Lucy Hawkes.
Run little turtles, run! Loggerhead turtles in Cape Verde, University of Exeter, Lucy Hawkes.


Turtle Troubles

No New Males: Climate Change Threat to Cape Verde Turtles,
University of Exeter, July 11, 2019.


Hot End of Loggerhead Turtles
"...by 2100 - more than 90% of loggerhead nests on the Cape Verde islands could incubate at "lethally high temperatures", killing turtles before they hatch."

Turtle Troubles
"The sex of turtle hatchlings is determined by incubation temperature..."

Low Heat Not Happening…
"Even under a scenario based on low future emissions and warming, by 2100 just 0.14% of hatchlings would be male."

"Under mid and high-emissions scenarios, hatching of male loggerheads could cease entirely."

Nearing the End
"We estimate that 84% of current hatchlings are female, and warmer temperatures will increase this proportion."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Solar System Formation, Planets & Moons



Circumplanetary Disk
Young planet designated PDS 70 c has a circumplanetary disk, a feature that is strongly theorized to be the birthplace of moons, credit to ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) A. Isella; ESO.
This is a composite image of the young star system PDS 70. Comparing new ALMA data to earlier VLT observations, astronomers determined that the young planet designated PDS 70 c has a circumplanetary disk, a feature that is strongly theorized to be the birthplace of moons, credit to ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) A. Isella; ESO.


Solar System Formation, Planets & Moons

'Moon-Forming' Circumplanetary Disk Discovered in Distant Star System,
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, July 11. 2019.


Distant Moon Formation
"...made the first-ever observations of a circumplanetary disk, the planet-girding belt of dust and gas that astronomers strongly theorize controls the formation of planets and gives rise to an entire system of moons, like those found around Jupiter."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Looking into the Mirror of Life: Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Science News & Research for Good Observers, Summer & Fall of 2019



Really Big and Really Small Scale Sciences

The Fundamental Nature of Reality Big to Small... 

We follow Astro-physics and Science News for fun, because the Nature of Life itself is pretty darn entertaining on its own merits. Understanding the Nature and construction of our reality is a pragmatic move for all its "operators," but especially for backpacker's finding context in, and navigating the terrain to both ascertain & clarify our place in the Universe.

This is the amazing universe we are walking through.

Interestingly enough, we have to understand the fundamental nature of the motions & relationships within the Universe around us to find our precise position on this Earth, to understand our context within its Nature, and how we can or cannot fit perfectly into the greater Universe around us.

We follow science to better understand ourselves, what we are hiking through, and our choices along our journey.



Summer and Fall



January 4, 2020





Alex Wierbinski's picture

Nasty Asian longhorned Tick Rapidly Filling up Staten Island, NY, & East Coast



July 2019
Direct to Article

Savage Tick-Clone Armies are Sucking Cows to Death; Experts Fear for Humans, ArsTechnica, July 11, 2019.


Deadly Tick Attacks
"Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week."

Clone Armies of Death
"...a single well-fed female can spawn up to 2,000 tick clones parthenogenetically—that is, without mating—in a matter of weeks."

Unique Persistence
"...unlike other ticks that tend to feast on a victim for no more than seven days, mobs of H. longicorni can latch on for up to 19 days."

"...the National Veterinary Services Laboratories looked back through their tick samples and discovered a larval H. longicornis was isolated from a white-tailed deer in Tyler County, West Virginia, in 2010, backdating the first case known in the US. Still, researchers don’t know when the tick first arrived and were it came from."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Big Ohio Study Matches Global Butterfly & Insect Declines



Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail on flower, Oregon State University, Rob Liptak, Ohio Lepidopterists.
Swallowtail on flower, Oregon State University, Rob Liptak, Ohio Lepidopterists.


Big Ohio Study Matches Global Butterfly & Insect Declines

Decades-Long Butterfly Study Shows Common Species on the Decline,
Oregon State University, July 9, 2019.


2% Annual Decrease
33% Loss Over 21 Year Study
"...butterfly abundance in Ohio declined yearly by 2%, resulting in an overall 33% drop for the 21 years of the program."

All Over World?
"The findings also are in line with those of butterfly monitoring programs in multiple European countries."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

NOAA Climate Assessment for the U.S. Climate in June 2019




US Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events, June 2019
US Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events, June 2019, NOAA.

Big Version. NOAA


State of US Climate & Weather
Extreme Rain, Rather than Heat, Marks 2019, So Far

Assessing the U.S. Climate in June 2019,
NOAA, NCEI, July 9, 2019.


An Average Temp June

Average June Temps
June average US temp of, "...68.7°F, 0.2°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the middle third of the 125-year record."

Wettest June on Record

June Precip Record
"...June precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.30 inches, 0.37 inch above average, and ranked in the upper third of the 125-year period of record.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Thwaites Glacier to be Gone in between 200 & 600 Years



Thwaites Glacier's Edge
Thwaites Glacier's Edge, credit Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA/James Yungel.
"Thwaites Glacier's outer edge. As the glacier flows into the ocean, it becomes sea ice and drives up sea level. Thwaites Glacier ice is flowing particularly fast, and some researchers believe it may have already tipped into instability or be near that point, though this has not yet been established." Credit, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA/James Yungel


Everything Changing Rapidly

Instability in Antarctic Ice Projected to make Sea Level Rise Rapidly,
Georgia Institute of Technology, July 8, 2019.


Antarctic Surprise
"...instability hidden within Antarctic ice is likely to accelerate its flow into the ocean and push sea level up at a more rapid pace than previously expected."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

OCEANS, WATER, & LIFE: Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Seaweed...



Massive Sargassum Seaweed Bloom Grounding in Mexico
It's Hitting the Fan, Now...
Sargassum Seaweed Grounding, Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.
Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.


Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Vast Seaweed Blooms...

Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World,
NASA Earth Observatory, July 8, 2019.

USF Article


“Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.”
"...the belt of brown macroalgae called Sargassum can grow so large that it blankets the surface of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. This happened in 2018 when more than 20 million tons of Sargassum—heavier than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers—floated in surface waters and wreaked havoc on shorelines in the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico."

“The scale of these blooms is truly enormous."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

News of Fish, Water, Oceans, Ice, & People, Summer & Fall of 2019

News of Fish, Water, Oceans, Ice, & People,

Summer & Fall


This is the High Sierra
Fish, Oceans, Ice, Sealife, & Water News

The Fish News has been stretching into Fish & River News, now into covering Water Issues generally. We cover water as it stands, pools, flows, freezes, and precipitates. A step further, we cover how water affects the things that most directly depend on it, the things that grow, swim, drink, ship, & store water.


NOAA West Coast Fisheries

All Sierra Snow

All Sierra Precip



Winter & Spring of 2019


2015-17 Fish, Ice, Oceans, WATER, & People NEWS & RESEARCH


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Status & Evolution of the High Sierra Spring Thaw of 2019

High Sierra Spring of 2019
Evolution of Conditions

Page Started
March 30, 2019

July 7, 2019



A Heavy Snow Year

July 5 2019
A Month of Warm-"Temperate" Temps with Rapid & Slow periods of Thawing.
Heavy Spring Snowpack Persisting into Summer: Extra Caution, Information, Skills, Fitnesss and Proper Gear still REQUIRED.
71% of Average Snowpack

June 17 2019
Two Weeks of Warm Temps & Rapid Thawing
120% of Average Snowpack

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Science Performs Intellectual Gymnastics to Preserve Paris Accord Farce



Modern Industrial Infrastructure
A Power Plant
 Last of the Mohicans, if Paris is going to, "work?" Credit Carnegie Inst. Sci.
Last of the Mohicans, if Paris is going to, "work?" Credit Carnegie Inst. Sci.


Science Performs Intellectual Gymnastics to Preserve Paris Accord Farce

Two-degree climate goal attainable without early infrastructure retirement,
Carnegie Institution for Science, July 2, 2019.

Main Points

Welcome to Crazy-Town
"If power plants, boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and other energy infrastructure is not marked for early retirement, the world will fail to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius climate-stabilizing goal set out by the Paris Agreement..."

Current CO2 Production
"...China is predicted to produce the largest share--41 percent--and the United States and European Union 9 percent and 7 percent respectively."

What about India? (7%, Al.)

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Carson Iceberg & Emigrant Forest Roads Closed in Aftermath of the Donnell Fire



May 29 & June 17, 2019
Donnell Lake and Crabtree Trailhead Closures ADDED

May 23, 2019
Forest Closure Order Modification,
North & East Carson Iceberg Wilderness Opened, Half TYT still Closed



During the Donnell Fire, August 2018
Bringing Water to Fire

FEO Engine 344 on Groveland Ranger District, by Josiah Dewey.
Photo by Josiah Dewey, FEO Engine 344 of Groveland Ranger District. More.


Aftermath of the Donnell Fire

Stanislaus National Forest, Recent Forest Orders,
Stanislaus National Forest. Alerts & Notices.

The Donnell Fire

Donnell Fire Timeline

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Support Tahoe to Whitney

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.

We offer valuable Trail Guide, Skills, Weather, News and Analysis.

My goal is to get you out to see your natural and social potential. Help me keep this unique resource accessible and expanding towards its potential. We've a lot of miles to cover ahead...

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