This is the second of a series of Guides to the High Sierra Trail, an approximately 70 mile trail that runs from Crescent Meadow on... more » the western side of the Sierra Nevada to Whitney Portal on the eastern slope. Each segment roughly corresponds to a day on the trail. This Guide describes Segment 2 of 7: 9-Mile Creek to Precipice Lake.
This stretch takes you from the relatively protected and shaded forest of 9-Mile Creek to the exposed alpine terrain typical to the High Sierra. After leaving 9-Mile, it is a short and somewhat flat mile to Buck Creek Canyon. This terrain is a bit more open than what can be found at 9-Mile and offers some campsites and a bear box.
From Buck, the trail climbs about 600 feet in a little over a mile to Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp. Here you will find a backpacker's camp with all of the amenities (non-potable water pump, outhouses, bear boxes). You'll also find the High Sierra Camp, where you can stay in a tent cabin and eat chef-prepared food if you feel like spending $300+ a night.
For the next two miles, the trail descends gently from Bearpaw to Lone Pine Creek. At the creek crossing you will find a bridge crossing a violent gorge with no direct water access - it's another mile and ~500 ft of gain until easy water. There are some campsites throughout here and water access with a bit of exploration.
At this point you find yourself surrounded by stoic granite formations like Valhalla and Angel Wings. They will stay with you for the rest of the climb to the point where many of them are below you.
Eventually you reach the stunningly perfect Hamilton Lake. If it doesn't entice you to stay at one of the many comfortable campsites, you'll continue up to Precipice and pass through the famous High Sierra Trail tunnel at Hamilton Gorge.
Finally, this stretch ends at boulder-strewn Precipice Lake, one of the most pristine and beautiful on-trail lakes in all of the Sierra. less «