Lance... Steve is exactly right. I have gone 4 years in a row without permits (and one time my group was 5), and ALWAYS gotten permits. Last year I got permits on Labor Day Weekend. There are two lotteries, one at 11:00, and then for the no shows, one at 2:00. I have always gotten permits when I was there for the 11:00. My friend Gary flies out every year from back East, and never has permits, so you should just plan to get there the day before you want to hike, have a good breakfast in Lone Pine, and get to the Visitors Center around 10:30 or so. That way you can enjoy all the other hikers in your same position.
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier