First, many thanks to this Forum and the excellent information, advice and guidance provided. I probably visited this site every day for the past two months in preparation for my hike and found it extremely valuable.
October is supposed to a be a finicky weather month, and late October even finickier. When I got a permit for October 23 many folks told me it was too late and to pass. Boy am I glad I didn’t listen to them!
I arrived at the Portal parking lot about 3:45am to an amazing star-filled sky. The weather was near perfect and by the time I got organized and gathered my gear, it was at 4:06am when I started walking.
The trail was dry all the way up except for the often-mentioned patch of ice at the cables (very avoidable). Most importantly, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Sunny, clear and mild most of the way. Cool and windy at the top but not a cloud in the sky all day. Lots of people on the trail.
I’m 51 and have had some amazing treks in my short tenure as a hiker. This is among the top for both beauty and difficulty. (We cruised through to Trail Camp, but both the switchbacks and the trek from Trail Crest were brutal...going and coming!). Exactly 13 hours round trip including breaks of 10 minutes at Outpost, 20 mins at Trail Camp, and about 20-30 minutes at the summit. Because it was dark when we started we also spent about 15 minutes “enjoying the views” at the meadows on the way back. Of course, lots of “breathcatchers” both ways.
Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better day on the trails. Good luck to those about to head up.