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

Mountain Lion Track, Ebbetts Pass, Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Big Mountain Lion Track

Between Tyron Creek and the Noble Canyon trail junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Big Lion track Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail.

Trail Guide Page: Ebbetts Pass to Tyron Peak

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Yellow, Sierra Flower, Sierra Arnica

Sierra Flower, Yellow, Sierra Arnica? Hiking the PCT through Murray Canyon, July 2009. 8800 feet.

Sierra Arnica ? Murray Canyon, Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

Trail Guide: Tyron Peak to Murray Canyon

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Yellow, Sierra Flower, Sierra Columbine, Hummingbird, Emigrant Wilderness

Sierra Flower, Sierra Columbine (?), Hummingbird, Stanislaus National Forest, Just Northwest of the Emigrant Wilderness. It's a Columbine...but what type I'm not sure.

Hummingbird working a Sierra Columbine at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.


 Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort

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Purple, High Sierra Flower, Waxy Checkerbloom

High Sierra Flower: Purple, Waxy Checkerbloom (?), Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.

Waxy Checkerbloom, Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Backpacking just North of Spicer Meadow Reservoir Lake on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.

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Pink, High Sierra Flower, Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

High Sierra Flower, Pink, Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

Unknown delecate pink flower, Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

 Gardiner Meadow near Highland Lakes,

Heading from the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail up to the Pacific Crest Trail via Highland Creek & Lakes.

I have not completed this section of the trail guide yet, but the following guide page is close to Gardiner Meadow, and the map shows the location.

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Yellow, High Sierra Flower, Bolander's dandelion?

High Sierra Flower, Yellow, Bolander's dandelion?

High Sierra Flower, Yellow, Bolander's dandelion?

Though the form of the petals is not round as most dandelions are, the serrated ends of the petals is very much dandelion-like.  

I'm not sure. This Yellow flower also looks a bit like Stickey Arnica...


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Golden-mantled ground squirrel

Golden-mantled ground squirrel at 10,500 feet elevation in the Sonora Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Lodgepole Squirrel at 10,500 feet in the Sonora Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail.

 Lodgepole Squirrel at 10,500 feet in the Sonora Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail. I call these little guys Lodgepole Squirrels because they are the Squirrel family's version of the same color scheme shared with the Lodgepole Chipmunk...

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Tree Blaze, East Carson River, Benito Errea, 1944

Tree Blaze, East Carson River, Benito Errea, 1944

Benito Errea Tree Blaze, 1944, East Carson River Trail.

This blaze is about a half-mile North off of the Pacific Crest Trail down the unmaintained route following the East Fork of the Carson River down to Carson Falls.

East Fork of the Carson River Trail Guide Page

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Bear, Black, Tracks, High Sierra, Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Bear, Black, Tracks, High Sierra, Carson Iceberg Wilderness 

April 24, 2004

Bear Tracks standing above snow level, East Fork of the Carson River.

 The weight of the walker, in this case a bear, compresses the snow as they pass, leaving tracks.

As the snow mass melts the compressed snow creating the tracks melts much slower than the surrounding snow, pushing the tracks above the receeding snow.

How Cold of Weather Can I Run My Gas Stove In?

This is a complicated subject, affected by a variety of factors, but complex or no, REI gives the question the best general answer:

Backpacking Stoves: How to Choose

Their answer is to use liquid fuel stoves, such as white gas.

This is because gas canister stoves fail at altitude and with increasing cold:

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Red, Sierra Flower: Crimson Columbine, Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Sierra Flower: Crimson Columbine, hiking Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Crimson Columbine in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail Flowers.


Location: High up the headwaters bowl of the East Fork of the Carson River.

Carson Iceberg Wilderness in the Toiyabe National Forest. Pacific Crest Trail.

Elevation: 9200 feet.

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White, Sierra Shrub, White Mountain Heather, Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Sierra Shrub: White Mountain Heather.

Location: East Fork of the Carson River, Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Toiyabe National Forest. 

Scientifc Name: Cassiope mertensiana.

Elevation: 10,000 feet.

White Mountain Heather high up the headwaters bowl of the East Carson River along the Pacific Crest Trail.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Purple, Sierra Shrub, Purple Mountain Heather

Sierra Shrub: Purple Mountain Heather.

Location: Headwaters Bowl of the East Fork of the Carson River. Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Elevation: 10, 200 feet.

Purple Mountain Heather in the East Carson River headwaters bowl, Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

Can you see the bumblebee above?

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Kingsbury Grade down to Highway 108, Highway 395, East Side of the Northern Sierra Nevada

Over the years I've hitch-hiked to, and walked in and out of many remote High Sierra trailheads. The locals take note the first year, and by the third year they consider you a part of their local scene: The Backpacker.

Map embed: 
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Lightening Safety for Backpackers: Caught Out with Bubba and Dave.

Lightening Safety for Backpackers: Caught Out.

I have observed Summertime heat weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range for decades. The recipie is simple. Heatwaves in the Valley fill the atmosphere with hot evaporated moisture, a gentle onshore breeze pushes it up the Sierra Crest, and the cooling does the rest.

Lightening Safety & Probabilities

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Emergency Self-Arrest with a Safety Rock

Emergency Self-Arrest Device: The Safety Rock

Scramble to Lake Catherine under Banner Peak

Necessity is the mother of invention. I developed this approach to self-arrest after putting myself in a position where I required protection to get out of what I got myself into.

Keep Scrambling

What's the Best Gas for Backpacking Stoves in Cold Weather?

OK, I need some backpacking stove gas for some cold weather trips. So, I bopped into REI.  

Hey, wait a minute. This gas is 75% butane and that one is 65% isobutane and this one over here is three gasses. What the heck??

Let's get a better understanding of what that means here,

Gas Backpacking Stove Chemistry

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Weather Image: Palasides submerged in heavy clouds, Kings Canyon NP, John Muir Trail

Weather Image: Palasides submerged under heavy clouds, Kings Canyon NP, John Muir Trail just North of Mather Pass and South of the Palisades Lakes.

Heavy tropical moisture covering the Palisades just North of Mather Pass on the John Muir Trail.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Weather Image: Rain into Ionian Basin past Wanda Lake, Evolution Basin

Weather Image: Rain into Ionian Basin past Wanda Lake, Evolution Basin. Kings Canyon National Park, John Muir Trail.

Rain into the Ionian Basin beyond Wanda Lake, Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park. 

Expect Summer rain and thunderstorms.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Weather Image: Summer Thunderstorm & Downpour, Kennedy Meadows

Weather Image: Summer Thunderstorms followed me from the Carson Iceberg, through the Emigrant Wilderness, and all the way to Tuolumne Meadows one year. It was great!

Downpour on Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and PCT TYT backpacker resupply spot.

I'll find the exact year and date as I continue to comb through my notes and pictures to build the trail guide and forum. 

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