A lot of people jumped at entering the cables lottery on March 1. By the 3rd, close to 4500 applications were in. As you would think, they were mostly for Saturdays. The hint here is to go ahead and take a vacation day or two and go mid-week. It looks like the park is deferring to recreation.gov for implementing the lottery applications and permit distribution.
Although the actually drawings will take place in early April, the NPS is still looking at the implementation. We will probably get our “award” as an acceptance letter. This is NOT your permit. Rec.gov will instruct you to printout your actual “permit” sheet. CAUTION: Do not do this until you are really ready to go. Once the permit is printed, you cannot get a refund. If you have to cancel one of your hikers, you need to go through the rec.gov normal process for cancelling – like CALL THEM. They will reissue you a new permit PDF that will have the new number of hikers and you’ll print and take that. I’d suggest you do this while still near a printer.
Since the number in your party is set, only the Trip Leader needs to carry the paper permit. If you think the Trip leader may fall into the Merced, you can make copies. But the Trip Leader must arrive at the same time as the party, so it’s not needed. An ID of the Trip Leader is required – not the other hikers.
Remember, the permits cannot be sold. So that means in you stumble upon a party with say, “5” on their permit, but they only have 4 going that day, you are not allowed to give the Trip Leader $5 (cost of the permit per person) and hike up with them. The park considers that “selling.” BUT they can let you come along with no money exchange. This probably won’t happen, but I don’t think you will go to Leavenworth if so. The Park is really asking people to cancel any unused permits and get your $5.00 back on your credit card. Those unused permits will go into the”2-day” advance permit pool for the mini-lottery. I plan to do the hike a couple times and think I will just bank on the 2-day advance process. Last year the actual number “showing up” was way less than the number of permits issued. If you win a short fuse lottery, I’m assuming the code number they give you will be acceptable to the ranger at Checkpoint Charlie. It was last year.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You will live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.” -Ruth E. Renkl
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com