Wanted to give a quick update on my day hike this past Saturday. Starting November one can walk into the station, like I did on Friday evening and get a permit and a WAG bag. If you cant make it to the station in time (5pm PST) then you can self-issue a permit at the gazebo outside the station. There was decent traffic on the trail but looked like most were camping.
Trail is in excellent condition! Amazing given its mid-November but there is almost NO ice anywhere. Water that creeps onto the path from streams has frozen over starting a little before Outpost Camp but it is totally navigable with no issues at all.
There was no ice around the cables on the switchbacks also. The huge block of ice below the summit (around 100ft below) has totally melted as well. So one can just walk through the talons / rocks.
If you are doing a day hike, the tricky part was the weather (since you may have to layer up and down as day progresses). I am fairly light weight so additional layering and weight (water bottles and not using the usual water bladder) made it hard work. Wind came and went but I was warm in my synthetic t-shirt, merino wool base layer and down jacket (lightweight one, not a heavy weight). Quite windy on the top (so sat in the hut, which i have never done before). Was told it was 25 outside but in the sun you did not feel it. Once you passed over trail crest wind was quite persistent and a hat or hoodie is important. Most people also had cloth / masks covering their face but I did not need that. Amazingly saw this little bird right next to the hut.
I actually had to take off my down jacket coming down from trail crest and just had my t-shirt and merino wool base layer and was totally ok with that. This might be different for others obviously.
All in all amazing trail condition but quite cold to start. Though once sun came out got much better. I had simple fleece gloves and they were just fine. Finally would recommend hiking poles going up, for support on rocks since some streams were frozen and in the night its better to have some support. I had packed my poles coming down. Also your phone / GPS battery will really run out due to cold. So my GPS was gone by the time i reached the top (and had some serious heart palpitations when my car key did not initially unlock the car when i reached the portal
). Obviously all of the above would be invalid if snow hits, which can happen ANY time now....