Did a hike up the main trail this past weekend, leaving Thursday night at 11:30pm, and getting to Trail Crest at 5am Friday morning. Lack of sleep and cold temps led us to turn back at that point, but it was a good workout and nice to be in the wilderness nonetheless. Saw a few more folks on the trail than expected, but not too busy. Saw one group of campers and another solo camper on the way up, and as we descended saw about three groups of hikers heading up above Mirror Lake. Saw probably 4-5 groups of day hikers who were just checking things out below Lone Pine Lake as we exited to the Portal.
Was easy to score a permit. Still had to reserve at Recreation.gov, then once you get that email confirmation you email Inyo NF (SM.FS.WildPmt_Inyo@usda.gov) to receive the actual permit. They sent my permit within one day.
Of course, guessing the weather this weekend changed the conditions from summer trail to pseudo-winter trek, so good luck to folks who go up in the coming weeks.