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No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
#54890 04/06/19 06:50 AM
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No Walk Up Permits
All the space for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight permits is now reserved on Recreation.gov. Walk up permits will not be issued for these Mt Whitney permits for the 2019 season.

Instead of standing in line at the visitor center, reserve the space from last minute cancelations or group size reductions on the web. Reserved permits can utilize Will Call and Night Box Service.

Inyo Statement on NO Walk Up Permits

This is a major screw up. Let the whining begin.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
SierraNevada #54893 04/06/19 07:10 PM
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Wow. That's crazy. Programming error or policy change?

Do spots open up on recreation.gov at random? I feel like I'm checking a few times a day for openings.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
climb415 #54894 04/06/19 10:53 PM
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I first thought this was an April 1 post! I'll try to get more info ASAP.

Maybe it is this...
If the group-size reductions (when people show up to pick up their permits, but don't need all reserved slots) are handled online by the permit issuers, IF those reductions show up online, then people with the quickest fingers can reserve those slots online.

So... you could be at home in front of your computer many hours drive away from Lone Pine, and grab a last minute slot. Once you have that, call the Visitor Center, ask for a night-box pickup, and then drive up and pick up your permit that night, start hiking next morning as early as you like.

If the above is true, then the no-shows might show up online after the pickup deadline. Who knows???

This is all "It may be this..." conjecture. I'll call to get the full story, and post it here.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54896 04/08/19 05:21 AM
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Peeling back a few layers here, this recent policy change could be a indirect way to lower the traffic on the mountain.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54897 04/08/19 08:16 AM
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Ok!! I got a lot more of the story...

First, the text from the Inyo N.F. Recreation Passes & Permits page:


Here's the scoop:

No-shows will show up ON-LINE soon after the no-show deadline. When they show up is set at a random time so that one party can't cancel and another coordinate and pick up the available slots. But no-shows WILL be made available online in time for people to get a reservation, and then possibly call for a night box pickup, drive to Lone Pine with the assurance that they have a permit waiting.

This online reservation of no-shows even extends to same-day entry for overnight trips. Inyo is still working with software developers on the details of how soon the no-shows appear on the web. It would need to be within a several hour window, since the permit pickup affects the time to get started on the hike!

The Will-Call & Night Box service: THIS is intended to eliminate the long waits in line at the Visitor Center. If you call in advance and go over all the trip specifications by phone, you can then quickly show up and pick up your permit in a Will-Call line (or possibly at that kiosk by the road, not sure). No more waiting behind someone at the counter who is trying to figure out where they will be camping each night.
... And getting that reservation pre-set-up means that your unused slots will be made available online, instead of at the last minute when you pick up your hard-copy permit.

This Will-Call & Night Box service is even extended to those traveling into the National Parks. (Before, they required you to meet face-to-face at the Visitor Center.)

Now a notice: This is all subject to change. As long as everyone follows the regulations, and does NOT abuse the new system, it should help everyone get permits and waste less time standing in lines. So this requires everyone to help out. Thanks!

Inyo hopes to extend the no-walk-in process to all trails in the future, so let's hope all the kinks get worked out this year.

Last edited by Steve C; 04/08/19 11:09 AM.
Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54898 04/08/19 08:54 AM
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A guide told me that Whitney permits will no longer be able to be cancelled online and you have to call???? Is this true? (If true, it will probably really cut down on permit cancellations).

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54899 04/08/19 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: jaym
A guide told me that Whitney permits will no longer be able to be cancelled online and you have to call???? Is this true? (If true, it will probably really cut down on permit cancellations).

I doubt that is true. The goal is for people to do as much in advance as possible, both online and via phone-in setup for will-call permits. It was mentioned that the confirmation up to 2 weeks in advance may be (or has been) shortened to 1 week in advance of permit pickup.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54900 04/08/19 10:31 AM
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Your right. I just called reservations and confirmed you can cancel online (otherwise it would have been really crazy) Maybe the guide was talking about/confused by the no walk-up changes.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
pcieluch #54902 04/08/19 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted By: pcieluch
Peeling back a few layers here, this recent policy change could be a indirect way to lower the traffic on the mountain.

I don’t think that’s it. Issuing lots of walk-up permits is probably pretty time consuming. But I think the real reason is that walk up permits are free, while reserved permits cost money. And Trump just proposed to cut the USDA budget, and the USFS has to get their money somewhere.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54903 04/08/19 11:14 AM
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Looking at the current No Show deadlines:
Scenarios:

Day use: 12 Noon before Entry Date:

Grab permit 1PM-2PM. Call to setup up the Permit Kiosk. Drive up from sea level. Start hiking at 12 midnight. Start puking from altitude sickness probably around Lone Pine Lake make hasty retreat back to car....

MultiDay (overnight): 10 AM day of Permit:

Grab permit 11AM-12PM. Call to setup the Kiosk. Drive up from Sea level. Sleep at increasing elevation campsites (Lone Pine Lake, Outpost, Trail Camp, etc.) Success!

Can you sleep at Whitney Portal and sneak in the next day? E.g. permit for Thursday-Monday (Monday just in case you still feel sick at Trail Camp and need another day of acclimatization) but sleep Thursday night at the Portal and have breakfast at the Portal Resturaunt.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54905 04/08/19 11:36 AM
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Adding to bobpickering's post: It is also an attempt to shorten the lines and wait times at the Visitor Center.

jaym wrote: "Start puking from altitude sickness probably around Lone Pine Lake make hasty retreat back to car...."
Yep. It enables day hikers to enjoy the AMS to the fullest. grin

also: "Can you sleep at Whitney Portal and sneak in the next day?"
Nope. But people could use head lamps and hike up and camp at Lone Pine Lake the first night. I've done similar things in Yosemite: start hiking after a big burger, hiking into the night, set up camp after a few hours. Wake up next morning and carry on.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54910 04/09/19 09:39 AM
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Thanks for the detailed follow up, Steve. Reading this, it seems to me that in the scenario I’ve had in the past where we showed up to check on walk up permits, we could now just hang out nearby in Lone Pine checking the website after the appointed times and see what comes available. That is different, but maybe not as different as I originally feared. Or am I missing an important point?

One other question. Does this only apply to Whitney main trail? What about the Whitney exit walk up quota?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #54911 04/09/19 10:23 AM
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Jammer, I think that is Inyo's intent -- that you can hang out and keep checking for slots to show up, using "your own device". They intend for no-shows to appear on the web, too, but are still hashing out the timeframe... they don't want a flood of slots to all appear at once, instead they want them to show up at random times. The time window is still being worked out.

This applies to both Day Use and Overnight use on the Main Trail, (and Day Use on the Mountaineers non-trail Route, since it requires the same Day Use permit).

They want to extend this process in the future to the walk-in and no-show permits for all the other trails. I just don't know how it could extend to the Trail Crest Exit Permit, since that permit requires that you first get an entry permit on another trail. And also, those walk-in exit permits are given to people picking up their trailhead entry permit when they pick up that entry permit.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54914 04/10/19 06:12 AM
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Locals probably aren't too happy about it. Now anyone in the greater LA/SD area is local enough to make the 3/4 drive AFTER securing the "walk up" permits online. It's probably going to make the mountain more crowded too because they'll likely all get scooped up, considering the competition for them will greatly increase.

So by having these pop up at random times during a certain time window, that means people hovering over their devices upwards of 2 hours, waiting for them to show up?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
bruce #54915 04/10/19 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted By: bruce
So by having these pop up at random times during a certain time window, that means people hovering over their devices upwards of 2 hours, waiting for them to show up?

smile Yeah, something like that.  I wasn't given a number, so we don't know how long a time window those random times will come out.  The old published numbers were always "at a random time in the next 24 hours".  But here, we're dealing with a much shorter time window before the permits are worthless.

The reason they don't want permits to appear immediately is that one party holding the permits could coordinate their cancellation/release time with another party who could then scoop them up.  The possibility of that could lead to scalpers making $$ from the transaction.

The staff I spoke to indicated the exact details aren't set in stone yet, so we will have to wait and see.  I would think a one-hour time window would eliminate the scalper threat, and enable everyone to have a fair chance at grabbing the permits.  Especially for no-shows on overnight hikes, with a 10 AM pickup deadline, those permits would need to be made available over the next hour, so anyone else ready to start a backpack trip could get a permit and change which trailhead they start on.

...Of course that means whatever permit they already had should then be made available online.  This could get interesting...

And that leads to a final question:  At the deadline after which no more Will Call permits can be made available, will there be a point in time when the Unused Permits number will show up online?  Thinking about it, Bruce makes a good point that those last unused permits may very well get scooped up by people ready to drive the distance and pick up their permit in the Night Box.  The Unused Permits numbers will definitely decline.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54916 04/10/19 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
The last unused permits may very well get scooped up by people ready to drive the distance and pick up their permit in the Night Box.  The Unused Permits numbers will definitely decline.


Maybe, maybe not. I've mentioned a few times I've never been shut-out from any TH walk-up permit, including WZ. Of course, I'm always solo and many times mid-week, but not having a reserved permit in hand has ever determined whether or not to head up from SoCal.

Perhaps I might be projecting, but how many people would decide to drive 4 hours just because a permit was available? I would think the opposite would be true ie more like my situation, where you have the means, motivation and opportunity. (Can't do the time, don't do the crime.) IOW, I have a few free days, the weather forecast looks good, and I'm feeling strong and healthy. In my experience, that's when I throw my gear in the car and head out regardless.

-----

Now, with all this discussion about permits, I noted one important aspect, which I'm really curious about: you mentioned night-drop will be available for the parks? Or just the SEKI side of WZ? Because if that's true, Katy bar the door. How many of us have driven up after work, shown up after hours, wasted night 1 sleeping in the car, got a permit the next am (ya know, first in line club), and finally hit the TH before noon? That's yet another reason why the WZ is so awesome, in that with night drop, you could compress a trip by hiking up to LP lake night 1. If this is truly a new option for the parks, yippee!

Last edited by Hobbes; 04/10/19 08:40 AM.
Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Hobbes #54917 04/10/19 11:15 AM
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Hobbes, thanks for all the input!

You asked: "you mentioned night-drop will be available for the parks?"

That is only for people getting a permit from Inyo N.F. to start their hike on an Inyo trailhead, but their trip extends across the crest into SeKi. Up until this year, SeKi required Inyo to enforce the trip leader to walk-in to receive their hard-copy permit, because they wanted everyone to get the face-to-face instructions that SeKi requires. Inyo pointed out this requires more staff time of them, so either drop the face-to-face, or help pay for Visitor Center staffing.

This is a really big change. Two years ago, it forced me to waste gas coming back down to Lone Pine from Horseshoe Meadows, and delaying the start of my hike for hours (getting to my overnight spot in the cold after sundown). I've always said SeKi could very easily put all their regs on a PDF document that hikers could download, sign, and carry as part of their permit.

Let's all hope that SeKi sees the efficiency in Inyo's process, and eventually changes their rules to add online last minute reservations, Will Call, and Night Box pickup. I have many times spent overnights hiding out somewhere in my car, or driving to the park at Oh-Dark-Thirty to get first place in those lines. It would sure be a game-change.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54921 04/11/19 05:50 AM
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Yosemite Valley is no longer issuing walkups for any trailhead that joins up with the JMT and goes over Donahue Pass. The only walkups issued will be for the many other trails in the park with the trip not leaving over Donahue Pass. It's the same process there as unclaimed permits will appear online for the next day.

If this new policy is extended to all the trailheads in the Sierra Parks, people may not be so willing to get into the area without a permit in hand. This would be especially true for hikers coming from the east coast or the heartland of the county.

I live in MN and have never been able to secure a permit online for the trailhead I want 6 months out, there all gone so quickly. But from information gathered on this board and other places, I just get there early in the week and have no issue getting one of the allotted walkup permits.

Half Dome permits were a lottery this year. And no longer did a Happy Isle permit come with the option to do Half Dome on the way up the valley.

Though Inyo's process may prove to be much more efficient as time goes by, there is one the question I wonder. Will this new policy, and if extended to all the parks, lessen tourism into the eastern side?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
pcieluch #54922 04/11/19 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted By: pcieluch
I live in MN and have never been able to secure a permit online for the trailhead I want 6 months out.

There are many worthwhile trails in the Sierra. The most famous and popular trails (e.g. Whitney and Half Dome) can be a challenge, but the others are easy if you apply early. This year, I applied for five permits: two in Inyo National Forest, two in the Sierra National Forest, and one in SEKI. I got my first choice date for every one. I climbed Half Dome last year right after the quota period ended, and I usually climb Whitney outside the quota period too.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
bobpickering #54923 04/11/19 12:55 PM
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Like most people that live close to the Sierras, I never apply for reservations. I always do a walk-in. However, with that said, I always have a backup plan, or alternative trailhead.

A little known secret are the non-quota trailheads. For example, out of Horseshoe Meadow, you have Cottonwood and New Army Passes that have quotas. However, Trail Pass is a non-quota pass. I take it every time that I head down to the Kern River. The pass is on the PCT and is accessed from the Cottonwood trailhead. Some info: Cottonwood Pass is around 4 miles from the trailhead. Trail Pass is 2 miles. The distance from Trail Pass to Cottonwood Pass is 4 miles, for a total of 6 miles. So, in effect, I hike an extra 2 miles and didn't have to worry about missing out on a permit.

Paul

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54924 04/11/19 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C

That is only for people getting a permit from Inyo N.F. to start their hike on an Inyo trailhead, but their trip extends across the crest into SeKi.


That's sort of like saying, "other than that, how was the play Mrs Lincoln?" LOL

How many people actually start on the SEKI west side or within Yosemite vs the zillions of people heading in from Inyo? Or maybe I'm just being SoCal centric vs considering all the Bay area/Central valley enthusiasts. But even with that said, the people I know from the Bay area also tend to drive around and start from Inyo/Toiyabe side.

Anyway you slice it, this is a major deal. If you have a 3-day weekend, but could actually get started the evening you drove in, that would make it in effect a 3.5 day weekend. Just thinking of the possibilities here.

For example, Shepherd (or the other bad boys) requires a 5am start if you want to do it in one day. Screwing around with a face-face permit - even first in line - means leaving too late (ie 9am - ask me how I know). Under the new system, you could hike up to around 8k (ie where it's cool enough to sleep) by 8-9pm. The next morning you could then skedaddle clear over the pass before 9am, in essence gaining an entire day.

Stoked if true.

PS Yes, the non-quota/large volume THs south of WZ are the new JMT/Whitney start points for those in-the-know.

Last edited by Hobbes; 04/11/19 01:38 PM.
Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Paul #54925 04/11/19 03:18 PM
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Paul, a little-known rule that I learned recently: People cannot use the Trail Pass permit to jump on the PCT/JMT northbound. There was even a story where a desk ranger didn't understand the rule, and wouldn't allow a Trail Pass permit just to go in and come back out at Horseshoe Meadows.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54926 04/11/19 06:01 PM
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That's interesting because when I apply for it I always talk to the ranger at the visitor center about how easily it is to to head north and they agree.

Now, having said that, when I get my permit, it is for heading down to the Kern and loop back around and out Cottonwood or New Army.

I list Cottonwood and New Army as my exit trailhead.

Do I not understand?

paul

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Paul #54927 04/11/19 07:29 PM
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A hike in and out of Horseshoe Meadows, regardless of which route you exit is ok.

They just don't want people using the no-quota Trail Pass entry to then hop onto the PCT/JMT and head north, exiting at Mt. Whitney or farther north. Because doing that would just add more people to the already overloaded JMT.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Hobbes #54928 04/11/19 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted By: Hobbes
For example, Shepherd (or the other bad boys) requires a 5am start if you want to do it in one day. Screwing around with a face-face permit - even first in line - means leaving too late (ie 9am - ask me how I know). Under the new system, you could hike up to around 8k (ie where it's cool enough to sleep) by 8-9pm. The next morning you could then skedaddle clear over the pass before 9am, in essence gaining an entire day.

Are you suggesting that under the new system they would allow box pickup after 5pm for permits for that day? That doesn't seem right.

Or are you just saying you could drive up that day (arriving before close) because you would have the guarantee of the same-day walk-in, rather than the gamble that it's always been until now?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jonathan C #54929 04/12/19 07:51 AM
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Jonathan, I think that is what Hobbes is looking at. And why not? If the permit is for a Friday start date, there is no rule saying you cannot start your hike at 9 PM. That is what I did on the Shepherd Pass trail one year. (Hobbes, getting over Shepherd by 9 AM would have required me hiking ALL night!! grin  )

Inyo has mostly been talking about Night Box pickup enabling people to drive in after closing, get their permit and start really early next morning. But actually, the Night Box pickup for an evening start should work, too. I think you would need to stress to the people working the night box that you plan to pick it up that evening, or they might remove it, thinking you are a no-show.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jonathan C #54930 04/12/19 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted By: Jonathan C
Are you just saying you could drive up that day (arriving before close) because you would have the guarantee of the same-day walk-in, rather than the gamble that it's always been until now?


Heck, I don't know; I'm just going off what I think Steve said.

If you were to drive up early enough before the permit office closes, that sort of defeats the idea of getting in a full 3-day weekend. That is, I'm 4 hrs away, which means I'd have to leave around noon. Now I'm at a 3.5-4 day weekend.

What I'm imagining is leaving work a bit early (4 pm), arriving by 8pm, grabbing a permit out of the night box and hiking up a few miles. The next day, you'd get a full day in (especially with a 5am start), which is killer for any of the big gain passes. The new system - as I understand it - eliminates wasting a lot of time waiting for the permit office to open.

---

JMT/PCT/WZ Steve, are you saying that THs now have exit limitations? Example: I enter Kearsarge, but cannot exit Lyle canyon? Or, I enter Shepherd, but cannot exit Whitney? What about the S to N lake loop? This doesn't sound right - interested to find out how they're going to enforce.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Hobbes #54931 04/12/19 08:40 AM
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I dunno, maybe they're less strict than I'm giving them credit for, I'm just assuming they wouldn't ever put a permit in the box if it expires that day. That seems like it would invite even well-intentioned visitors from ending up in a situation where they enter the next day.

Would be interesting to hear if they did allow this, because I would probably make use of it as well!

Even if not, it still means you could get in a half day at work, leave at lunch to get there before close, and be guaranteed a permit. Whereas before it wouldn't be worth driving up so late and risking no permit.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Hobbes #54932 04/12/19 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted By: Hobbes
JMT/PCT/WZ Steve, are you saying that THs now have exit limitations? Example: I enter Kearsarge, but cannot exit Lyle canyon? Or, I enter Shepherd, but cannot exit Whitney? What about the S to N lake loop? This doesn't sound right - interested to find out how they're going to enforce.

No, not at all. Only the Trail Crest exit permit -- where you start on any other Inyo N.F. trail head, and then exit via Trail Crest and the MMWT (Main Mt Whitney Trail). There is a quota of 25 per day on that one. It's always been in high demand since so many people want to start at Onion Valley or other places. 10 of the 25 are held back for walk-in requests, so people picking up their entry permits early enough are able to get one of those walk-ins. That one, I think, is probably the most difficult to offer for on-line pickup of any "no-shows". Unless the Wilderness Permit office would let people call in and ask for the Will Call, and at that time, see if there is an Exit slot available.

The exception to the Trail Crest Exit Permit requirement is that if you start from any other trail head, as in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, or other national forests, the exit permit is not required.

Oh... I should point out: THIS year, it is ONLY the Mt Whitney permits that the cancellations and no-shows will be available online. If it works well, they hope to extend it to all the other trails.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
SierraNevada #54935 04/12/19 04:42 PM
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Steve, thanks for calling Inyo to sort this out. The story got really scrambled on Facebook creating a lot of confusion and speculation. The brief description on the Inyo website raises more questions than it answers.

It will be interesting to see how this all works out in practice. It has the potential to reduce lines and staffing at the permit window, but there will now be a reservation fee for pretty much any Whitney permit. Oh well.

I've had bad luck with the night drop box at Mammoth. I'm 1 for 3 on that, and it really screwed up two trips. Count me skeptical on that night box. I'll wait to see how it works for others before I try that again.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
SierraNevada #54937 04/12/19 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
I've had bad luck with the night drop box at Mammoth. I'm 1 for 3 on that, and it really screwed up two trips. Count me skeptical on that night box. I'll wait to see how it works for others before I try that again.

What was the problem... someone else take your permit, or rangers putting wrong stuff on your permit, or ??

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54938 04/12/19 10:41 PM
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It’s been many years, but I’ve had night box problems at least twice. I drove down from Reno after work, and the night box was empty. I just went in anyway. One time I got checked. I told the ranger what happened, and she let me go.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
bobpickering #54939 04/13/19 08:10 AM
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Maybe they should just ditch the night boxes altogether.

Other trail systems allow you to exchange digitally signed .PDF permit forms, which you can print out and bring with you.

Perhaps Inyo NF could have instructions on how to create your own wag bag, or provide a vending machine at the kiosk that dispenses them.

I honestly think it is better to have a face-to-face encounter between hikers and USFS staff at the visitor center. People are less likely to be bad visitors (e.g., shooting guns at Lone Pine Lake by a campfire) when they in person agree to follow the rules. Understand this costs more to staff. Maybe SEKI should cover some of this.

I plan to hike/climb the Mountaineers' Route again this year (also Mt Williamson and ...). Still uncertain how the overall daily quota will affect those actual walk-in permits this year.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54940 04/13/19 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C

What was the problem... someone else take your permit, or rangers putting wrong stuff on your permit, or ??
Both of these incidents were at the Mammoth Visitor Center. One time it was in the box, great. Next time they swore they put it in the box, so maybe it was stolen. It killed my morning monkeying around at the office and then taking a bus down to the trailhead. If it was in the box, I could've drove to the trailhead and been miles down the trail in the coolest part of the day.

The third time I called on my drive over to confirm, and sure enough, it still wasn't in the box. I said screw it, I talked to so and so, got an online reservation, I'll take my chances. So I don't know what happened that time, but I didn't like worrying about it on the trip. Now I simply avoid the Mammoth Visitor Center for permits.

The bear lecture, food storage, fire safety, and other regulations should be an online course. If you pass the test, you can print your permit at home with a pdf-signed document. You can get an annual fire permit that way, and it works fine. The permit office should be optional for people wanting more information, or person-person interaction, or needing to rent a bear canister. Its really frustrating to stand in line while the morning is flying by, waiting for a reserved permit while a desk Ranger plans someone's trip for them with all the various options to consider. That's what they should be doing, not being a road block for experienced hikers wanting an early start on a tight schedule. Rant over.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
SierraNevada #55136 05/11/19 01:56 PM
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I installed the Recreation.gov app onto my iPhone and compared it to what I see online with the internet. For some reason the app version does not give any information on wilderness permits including Whitney. Am I missing something or is it not possible to use the app to make wilderness reservations?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Freestone #56052 08/20/19 10:43 AM
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So, this new process for 2019 has been in force for a good while now. Any updates/insights on how it's been working? Do we know yet exactly when the window starts for releasing the unclaimed permits back into the system for possible reservation and how long the random window lasts?

I'm curious, because I am thinking about using this new process to try and secure a day use permit, but in my initial monitoring of the site, I'm not really seeing any permits pop up. Either, there haven't been many released or I'm just looking at the wrong time of the day. Or maybe it is both. smile

If anyone has successfully learned more about how this is working, especially the timing to watch for, I would really appreciate learning from your experience.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #56056 08/20/19 03:56 PM
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The no-shows and group-size reductions show up the day before, sometimes two days before. As I write this, there is one Day Use available for tomorrow, but no overnights. You have to keep checking the site to catch one when they pop up.

Any slots farther out are way more scarce, and show up infrequently.

If they would start refunding some of the permit fees for early cancellations, there would probably be more available, but giving back money is apparently a really difficult thing to do.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #56057 08/20/19 07:56 PM
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I'm not sure I can help you with "timing", but I can say that we were able to obtain two Whitney permits on July 3 (we wanted to hike up to Trail Camp for acclimatization) and another 2 on July 5 (we summitted). Although you could make an argument that the late season snow caused a lot of cancelations, we were still able to get 2 permits 2 times on what has to be a very busy time for the system. We just monitored availability, in both cases we got them the day before. Good luck!

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Kascadia #56064 08/21/19 12:16 PM
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Thanks for the additional input, gentlemen. I took a little time after posting my message yesterday and monitored more closely in the period after lunch Pacific Time. I did see something pop up for the next day finally. This coupled with Kascadia's experience lends credence to the notion that they are showing up if one only takes the time to monitor.

For those of us who live far away, but might be somewhere in the greater area for business, it gives some confidence that driving over from Vegas or LA for a few days in the middle of the week won't be a waste of time.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #56067 08/21/19 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jammer
For those of us who live far away, but might be somewhere in the greater area for business, it gives some confidence that driving over from Vegas or LA for a few days in the middle of the week won't be a waste of time.


Yes! And for that matter, you can monitor the site from those locations, and once you snag a permit, you can then drive to Lone Pine and make the hike.

It isn't well documented, but if you snag a next-day permit in the afternoon, and want to drive up and get an early start, you can call the Wilderness Permit number (760-873-2483) and ask for a night-box pickup. They put those permits in a box in the kiosk by the road in front of the Inter-agency Visitor Center where you normally pick up the permits. The only issue is that sometimes the Inyo N.F. phones are not working (happens more often than most places) and you can't get through. Also if you call the number and it disconnects, you have to try again and again--there is not hold/wait queue. Pretty frustrating.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #56075 08/22/19 08:38 AM
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How about this situation. I live a few hours south of Lone Pine and lets say I snag a next day permit for a day hike up the main trail. However, I don't secure the permit until after IAVC closes and I want to start hiking early the next day. Can I still hike?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
AndyC #56077 08/22/19 01:55 PM
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The answer to this one is unfortunately fairly clear - no. If you are following the letter of the law you must have the permit in hand to be on trail within the Whitney Zone.

In reality, you may not bump into any rangers checking permits, or you may bump into a lenient one who will listen to your story and take it at face value. However, if you are less lucky you may be turned around and/or hit with a fine.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
sumptimwong #56081 08/22/19 07:55 PM
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Maybe just maybe, in a year or two, they might address that situation. Print out your own permit, maybe an extra page or so with boxes to initialize or sign, that you will follow all the rules, provide your own wag bag, etc.

The only thing you couldn't get is the tag to wear on the outside of your pack. Of course Trail rangers could ask to see your printed docs.

Maybe....

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #56094 08/23/19 08:35 PM
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My brother and I got really lucky with the new process. We had both scheduled vacation for Aug. 19-23 and wanted to do a multi-day summit attempt during that window. In July, we watched for permits intermittently on Recreation.gov and saw some pop up here and there. A couple of weeks ago I started watching the site almost obsessively. I started seeing quite a few permits come and go. A lot of the permits were for the following day, but occasionally I'd see one come out a day or two, or even a week in advance. On Wednesday morning, 8/14, 2 overnights became available for 8/19 and I instantly snagged them. We summitted this past Wednesday, 8/21, after spending 2 nights at Outpost Camp. It was my fifth summit and my brother's first. He did great!

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