Tahoe Sierra Nevada Dangers (bears, rattlesnakes, ticks, mountain lions, poison oak)
Under Construction

People are always worried about bears, rattlesnakes, poison oak and the like.
In 40 plus years of hiking around the high sierra the only problems I've heard of with plants or animals are mosquitoes and getting scratched up while bushwhacking thru fields of manzanita after getting lost.
Although a bear did grab a Tahoe neighbors dog by the head (The bear ran away after he threw a rock at it. and the dog was ok.) and a bear did break thru the screen door on our cabin when some renters left food on the table with only the screen door shut, I've never heard of a hiker attacked by a bear.

In 2013, after leading a trip where four participants got blisters, despite being warned about breaking in their boots, ..., I raised blisters to #1.

In "Hiking & Backpacking - A Trailside Guide", Karen Berger says,
"I'm not afraid of snakes or bears, I've never met a criminal in the woods. "For a long time I was very, very afraid of blisters."
"Blisters are probably the number-one cause of backcountry misery"

My current list of dangers for hiking/snowshoeing in the High Sierra is:

  1. Blisters - (and bunions).
  2. Sunburn See also Sunglasses
  3. Dehydration/Heat exhaustion. See Heat Index
  4. Rocks (sprained ankles, tripping, stubbing toes while wading without water shoes)
  5. Mosquitoes :-)
  6. Virusis picked up from other people due to lack of sanitation.
    In 2012 a man died in Yosemite from hantavirus
    Virusis are rarely present in the streams and lakes. Bacteria (Giardia, E. coli, ...) are not as big a problem. See "Bad Water" at the bottom of the list.
  7. Getting lost
  8. Dangerous cliffs, rivers, snow, and waterfalls
  9. Bee or wasp stings
  10. Hypothermia - In early October, 2008 a woman died from hypothermia on the Pacific Crest Trail above Lake Tahoe.
    See Wind Chill
  11. Altitude Sickness
  12. Lightning
  13. Avalanche - In backcountry areas like Castle Peak - YouTube
  14. Ticks
  15. Poison oak
  16. Forest Fires
  17. Bears
  18. Bad Water
Modified from a list at:
What plants and animals to look out for in yosemite? - Travel Forums - Open Travel

Plants and Animals
What Highest
Poison Oak 5,000
Bears 10,000 Black Bears only; They are afraid of people.
There are no grizzlies in California.
Mountain Lions 10,000 Sightings rare. They will avoid people.
Rattlesnakes 6-7,000 Rare at higher elevations. They are slow, rarely aggressive and rarely rattle.
Deer Ticks (Lime disease) 7,000 Tick season is brief and early - usually March-May. Usually at lower elevations.
Yellowjackets 10,000 These ground-nesting wasps are active mid-June through the fall

Safety Management:
Accidents fall into two categories, preventable and unpredictable. Rick Curtis, Director of Princeton U. Outdoor Action, has developed the Risk and Safety Management System (RASM), expanding on Alan Hale's work in the 1980s.

Emergency Contacts in the Tahoe Area
Outdoor problems under health
Forest Service Alerts and Notices
Trip Report: Buckwheat's Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Thru-Hike Summary
Ratlesnakes - "You'll be walking down the trail and almost step on one, then it hisses and rattles at you while it slithers off the trail. Occasionally, a rattler will coil up and refuse to move off the trail, no matter what you try to do to it. Bites are actually extremely rare and often contain no venom at all. Still, encounters can be unnerving."

Safety Management Plans
Safety & Skills | Mountaineering Council of Scotland

Sierra Nevada National Forests Management Indicator Species Project

The Backpacker's Field Manual, Revised and Updated: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills by Rick Curtis

last updated 30 July 2013