the process of getting permits for the mt whitney trail was a bit like stabbing myself in the leg. permits are handled by the inyo national forest service, whose website must be powered by alpine marmots lost at sea; it loads ever so slowly and about one in every four links fails to load altogether.
when the links worked, they didn't always go directly to the useful information. for instance, on the whitney zone page, there's an address and phone number listed under where to obtain permits. i called the number and got a recorded message pointing me back to the website. this little exercise taught me that obtain means to pick-up. before one can "obtain" a permit, one must first make a reservation.
el capitan, yosemite valley
this next paragraph is very important because the information is not shown anywhere on the inyo national forest website:
there are a few ways to reserve whiney zone permits, two of which are by fax and by phone. if by fax, one needs to download an application from the website, fill out, and fax to a number printed on page two of the application. if by phone, one needs to download that same application. because the phone number for reservations in printed on page two of the pdf, not on the website.
banana over half dome
thankfully, not all the information was convoluted to find. what i found most easily and useful were the two calendars of availability for whitney zone permits, one for day use and one for overnight. both appeared to be updated on a daily basis.
pine burl seen on the way to clouds rest
(is there an apostrophe missing in that name?)
originally i aimed to get overnight use permits but, according to the snazzy calendar, there was none left for september 30. for day use, there were 15 still available. so i called to reserve two for day use.
by the way, permits are free, but reservation costs $15 for each permit. the nice lady on the phone was very knowledgeable and helpful. she said to expect reservation papers along with a pamphlet on trail use in the mail in about a week. that was on september 14. we received the envelope on october 4, two days after we got back from our trip.
night sky over toulomne meadows camp site c52
i just checked the inyo national forest website to verify the links. looks like they added a lovely foresty background since i last used the website. check out the last updated overnight use calendar:
for comparison, here's the september version of the same calendar: