Had a wonderful hike due to great weather and info from this forum
Originally wanted to leave on the 21st, but sunday morning at the ranger office, asked to leave that day. he changed my permit date and did not charge me again. (unexpected).
Weather was clear, light to no wind and full moon, and it was bright. You could have hiked without a headlamp if you needed to.
Starting up to trail camp there was patchy snow and ice, nothing to worry about. The first few switch backs were the same then it became compacted snow. Traction was still good but I donned my microspikes simply because I had them, might as well use them. After trail crest there was a little more ice. Some were hiking with just boots and poles and did fine, i was more comfortable having spikes on. Crampons would have been going overboard. I assume after a busy weekend with nice weather, the trail was beaten down and better conditions compared to other post from earlier this month.
Reaching the final push for the summit, with the hut in sight, I did lose the trail because of snow. Judging by the tracks in the snow, I wasn't the only one.
I passed by a ranger just below trail camp, he was very nice guy to talk with, knowledgeable about current trail conditions and that was encouraging. We talked briefly about government shutdown and best route to drive to Phoenix. He checked my permit, gave a short briefing on "leave no trace", importance of bear canisters and wag bags. He commented that during the shutdown, even though no one was checking permits on the trail, an email confirmation would have been sufficient. Just FYI for future shutdowns (not trying to get political).
PS, a month ago I canceled comprehensive coverage on my car. the ranger at the visitors center told me about a few bad bears around the portal and to use the food lockers. every shooting star I saw that night at trail camp (before the obnoxiously bright moon came up) I wished for my car's safety from bears.