Mowgli has requested I give a trip report and I will do so because of all the good info I received from this site before embarking on the JMT.
I flew to Fresno on Sept 5, took Amtrak to Merced, then a Yarts bus to Yosemite arriving about dark that same day. The shuttle bus then delivered me to the pines campground where I found the backpackers campground. The next morning I got in line around 6 at the wilderness office and had a permit by 8:30 for that same day at Happy Isles! The first day was the hardest as the ascent was relentless and I pitched the tent a couple miles below the planned campspot at Sunrise Camp. IT was the first of 14 great hiking days to Mt Whitney. Had only 1 rainey day and caught trout on roostertails at Warrior and Sallie Keyes Lakes. No bear sightings---scat at 7 or 8 places along trail. A few mornings were brisk in the high 30's but by afternoon I was sweating beneath the packframe. Trail was generally dusty and one could smell smoke from the telephite fire near LeConte Ranger Station---sign said the fire has no imediate impact on JMT hiking. Only carried water twice---once was from Guitar Lake up to Whitney. Saw mountain goats near Pinchot Pass. No mosquitos just picture postcard scenery---the Sierra Nevada mountains are magnificent! Camped the last night at Lone Pine Lake then hitched from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine and caught the Crest bus to Bishop (Friday). Stayed at El Rancho motel over the weekend ($50/night), ate at Jacks, visited the Laws RR Museum, and caught the crest bus to Reno Monday to fly home. All in all a most memorable and enjoyable adventure made possible in part by info shared right here on Whiteblaze.
Thanks a million!