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Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
#59332 12/03/21 10:05 AM
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What permit(s) are needed for this, day hike or overnight? I am reading up on it and seem to get conflicting information. (Looking for this coming spring/ summer)

Day hikes seem to need a "Mt. Whitney Zone Day Use Permit" (the Whitney Lottery), but overnight just needs a "North Fork of Lone Pine Creek" permit, which is available now for 2022.

So "Mt. Whitney Zone overnight" is not good for Lone Pine Creek Trail, but "Mt. Whitney Zone Day Use" is.

Is that correct?

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Louie #59333 12/03/21 07:25 PM
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A Whitney Zone day permit (part of the lottery) allows you to climb Russell, the Mountaineers’ Route, the technical routes on Whitney, the main trail, and anything else in the Whitney Zone. If you’re going overnight, there are two possible permits. The main trail permit is part of the lottery. I believe that the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek permit is not part of the lottery. It should be available six months in advance, just like most other non-Whitney Inyo Permits.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
bobpickering #59334 12/04/21 10:54 AM
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Thanks. I understand the date of overnight permits is the entry date, and for most people that means one night, but there nothing stopping someone from staying several nights if they really wanted to, is there?

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Louie #59335 12/04/21 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Louie
Thanks. I understand the date of overnight permits is the entry date, and for most people that means one night, but there nothing stopping someone from staying several nights if they really wanted to, is there?

Exit date isn't really important. Just specify your exit date when requesting/paying for the permit on rec.gov.

Unless you're a month after your exit date, they are unlikely to care if you're a day or two late getting out of the wilderness. I usually pad my exit dates a few days.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
WanderingJim #59347 01/05/22 06:57 PM
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Just when I think I have it figured out, I get confused again...

So I followed the link https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233262/registration/detailed-availability specifically for North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, but looking at all of them.

First, what is the difference between "Overnight" and "Overnight Exiting Mt Whitney"?

2nd, I see some numbers, as some marked W. I assume W (Walkup) is what happens when the number remaining reservable goes to 0. (This is a little confusing compared to how other parts of recreation.gov works)

I also don't understand numbers I see, for example "Overnight Exiting Mt Whitney" on Thursday June 23 with shows W for every entry point, but the adjacent Wednesday and Friday show lots of availability. Is Thursday really that popular for some reason?

Finally the "Next 5 Days" button skips 14 days in the future, which just adds to the confusion. (Not a question, just me complaining. smile )

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Louie #59348 01/06/22 11:57 PM
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Overnight is the standard overnight wilderness permit. Overnight exiting Mt Whitney means you are going in on a trail other than the Main Mt Whitney trail, and you plan to exit on the Main Mt Whitney Trail. There is a separate and second permit required if you want to exit to Whitney Portal using the trail down from Trail Crest. The thinking is that the trail is so impacted, and that many people were hiking to Mt Whitney from the north and south, that they need to limit the number of people hiking down the trail. So if you select the "...exiting..." part, it is way harder to get the permit--they won't let you get the entry permit if the exit permit quota is already full.

"...some marked W..."
Except for the Main Mt Whitney trail lottery (both day use and overnight), all other permits are 60% reservable (6 months in advance), and 40% held back for walk-in (the day before entry). It used to be they came available at 11 AM on that day before, but not sure now. The W represents the held back walk-in permits.

Not sure about the "Thursday" question.

"Next 5 Days" button: It works for me, but I'm using a browser on a full-screen. I tried it on my iPhone, and it shows "next 4 days", and that works ok, too. Maybe try a different browser.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59349 01/07/22 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve C
Overnight is the standard overnight wilderness permit. Overnight exiting Mt Whitney means you are going in on a trail other than the Main Mt Whitney trail, and you plan to exit on the Main Mt Whitney Trail. There is a separate and second permit required if you want to exit to Whitney Portal using the trail down from Trail Crest. The thinking is that the trail is so impacted, and that many people were hiking to Mt Whitney from the north and south, that they need to limit the number of people hiking down the trail. So if you select the "...exiting..." part, it is way harder to get the permit--they won't let you get the entry permit if the exit permit quota is already full.

Got it, "Exiting Mt Whitney" is basically a 2nd permit allowing access to that section of the Whitney Main trail, eastward only (even though it looks like you are buying a single permit on recreation.gov). Once the "Exiting Mt Whitney" quota is reached, it is unavailable for all Inyo trailheads. This quota looks to be 25 per day, is that correct? But it is actually based on the day you are starting, not exiting, right?

Originally Posted by Steve C
"Next 5 Days" button: It works for me, but I'm using a browser on a full-screen. I tried it on my iPhone, and it shows "next 4 days", and that works ok, too. Maybe try a different browser.

Actually I noticed later it seems to do the 5 days ok, until you get past the 6 month reservation window, then I get the 14 day behavior. Weird.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Louie #59350 01/08/22 10:48 PM
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Yes, the quota is 25 per day, and again, 10 are held back for walk-in requests. I believe you have to reserve the exit for the day you plan to hike down from Trail Crest. At least that's how it was before all the COVID restrictions. It may have changed recently -- I ran through the reservation process, and I didn't see anything about a particular exit date, except for the number of days on the trail, and where you expect to spend each night.

So maybe it has gotten better, and all you need is the "Trail Crest Exit" stamped on your permit, and you don't need to worry about the exit date. I'll have to call the wilderness permit people and see what the latest situation is.

By the way,if you hike across the Sierra, entering from the west side, or do the JMT starting in Yosemite, you get a free pass to exit at Trail Crest.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59351 01/09/22 09:04 AM
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Hey Steve.......

I need a clarification on the permit process this year.

I am sure you remember the discussion a while back on the Forest Service holding back 40 percent of the permits for walkins. During the pandemic, the Forest Service changed the rules so that there were no walkins permitted. Even Trail Pass ( a non-quota entry point) was difficult to obtain since the Forest Service made it difficult to obtain.... must call in which was difficult since answering the phones was not their priority.

So in reading the above postings, you state that the Forest Service has re-instituted the walkin process. Correct?

So 60 percent of the permits are reservable and 40 percent for walkins this year.

Since I live less than 3 hours away from lone Pine, I would drive up and get a walkin, if Kearsarge Pass was available then I would take that, if not, then Trail pass was my fallback.

Thanks

Paul

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Paul #59352 01/09/22 02:36 PM
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Well, it sounds like I need to call the Wilderness Permit number when they're open, and find out what the latest situation will be. I'll try to call tomorrow.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59353 01/09/22 03:59 PM
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If you climb Mt. Russell vs. Cleaver Col, you will barely be in the Whitney Zone and no one will bother you =)

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Paul #59354 01/10/22 05:27 PM
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Paul and others, I talked with both Hunter and Cindy at Inyo N.F. regarding the permit system this year.

The Trail Crest Exit permit is an add-on to a normal permit, and they have attached the same date to it as the date of entry. (In years before, you needed to grab a specific exit date, which made getting one even more complex.) Now, all you need is the Exit Permit addition on your permit, and there is no official exit date assigned.

They are working on a "Print Your Permit" button that should be working this year, so you won't need to phone in and email to get a printed permit. That should significantly reduce the phone load, so people with real questions (and Trail Pass requests) will be able to get through easier. People will be able to print their own permit up to a week before the hike start date.

They are still doing the 60/40 percent system on all but the lottery permits -- 60% reservable 6 months in advance, and 40% held back. But not for walk-ins... Those go online at 7 AM 14 days before date of entry, so fast fingers will be first-come-first-served.

Cancellations go back into the on-line system, I believe they are released at a random time over the next 24 hours.

No-shows... are more difficult to identify with everything being online. They are the people who don't sign-in or call in to pick up their permit before the permit deadline. Deadlines for Whitney Zone day-use is noon the day before. For overnight hikes, it is 11 AM, the day of entry. But now with the ability to print your own a week in advance, some people will print a permit, and then not actually hike--these no-shows are impossible to identify. For Day Use permits no-shows, I'm not sure what time window they will show up. And overnight no-shows... no idea how that would work. I need to ask more about that later.

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Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59355 01/10/22 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve C
The Trail Crest Exit permit is an add-on to a normal permit, and they have attached the same date to it as the date of entry. (In years before, you needed to grab a specific exit date, which made getting one even more complex.) Now, all you need is the Exit Permit addition on your permit, and there is no official exit date assigned.

That is what I mostly figured looking at recreation.gov. Regulating Whitney exits based on entries many miles away and days before is a little weird, but I can see how the old way would get really complicated.

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59356 01/11/22 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve C
The Trail Crest Exit permit is an add-on to a normal permit

Is there still a quota for these Trail Crest Exit permits?

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
RenoFrank #59357 01/11/22 10:42 AM
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Thanks Steve....

I only have 1 question which you may or may not know the answer to. On Trail Pass (non-Quota Pass). to obtain the permit, I assume I must call in. Last year, the entry point had a "W" on every date. No explanation given as to how to obtain a permit.

If I have to call, then I hope they have improved their phone answering services.

paul

Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Paul #59358 01/11/22 04:11 PM
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Frank, yes there is a quota of 25 on the Trail Crest Exit permits, 15 available 6 months before, 10 available 2 weeks before. If you select the "exiting Mt Whitney" when looking for a trail permit, they only show available dates where BOTH your trail entry point AND the exit permit have available slots. If either quota is full, Rec.gov will show they aren't available.

Paul, yes you need to call in. I've always had pretty good luck calling in, but that's just my experience. As I wrote above they are adding the "Print your own permit" button online, so people don't need to call in now and work through email to get a permit. It can all be automatic. So they are hoping that will reduce the phone load.

The Trail Pass permit requires a phone call because there were way too many people wanting to go north on the JMT/PCT, and would select Trail Pass when Cottonwood Lakes and Cottonwood Pass quotas were full. People would indicate their camping locations, showing they were heading north, and Inyo does not allow people to do that. The are required to use the Cottonwood trails to head north. So, by phoning in, they can make sure people are actually going south or into the Golden Trout areas. Interestingly, if you call in, and are logged into Recreation.gov, while talking to them, they will open the quota for the date you want, so you can grab the permit, and then they close it. Kinda like a secret handshake. grin

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Re: Lone Pine Creek Trail / Mount Russell Permit Question
Steve C #59359 01/11/22 05:26 PM
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Again, thanks Steve for all your help.

For me, Trail Pass has always been the easiest way to head down to the Kern River and loop around for a 7 day hike. I am more interested this year to see what damage was done down in the Kern.

Yes, I hope their answering the phone is more timely this year.

Paul


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