Actually, I think the High Sierra is so large with so much to offer that Plan B, C, D etc. simply involves exchanging spectacular for spectacular scenery compared to your Plan A. I've done this for a very long time.rightstar76 wrote:Solution to stuff coming up on day of trip is Plan B. Easy in the Sierra Nevada if you're flexible and willing to give up spectacular scenery for nice scenery.
In the pre-electronic era we'd have to reserve permits by snail mail, which meant you sent in your prioritized list of alternative entry points (ie Plan A, B, C, D). You didn't know what you got until weeks after you sent in your reservation request. First come first serve did not begin the day before in those days, either but rather at opening time (usually 7 am) at whatever ranger or entrance station you were at. There was this entrance kiosk on Bishop Creek road that was amazing at 7 am. Folks would camp in the sage around there or lay out their bags in line. I managed to get a Bishop Pass Labor Day entry in 1984 and it was one of those "never again" experiences. Some very clever manuevering (ie super fast point guard stuff) when they split the line into two was the key for being the very last under the quota. I had slept UNDER my vehicle to avoid being run over by folks pulling in. Anyhow, to this day I have Plan A, B, ... although with the new system (can tell electronically whether you can reserve your choice, plus the day-before walk-up for first-come) I have rarely had to call the audible.
The last time I had to revise the game plan a bit was for my 2015 Little Lakes Valley-North Lake off trail epic. I couldn't get the desired Little Lakes entry (from which I planned to do Spire Lake then Italy then Bear Basin then Pinnacles Creek, then Ramona Lake, thence out in 5 days) but ended up with Pine Creek, which would have been a much tougher day 1 going to Spire. The new game plan was to hold on to this permit just in case, but cancel it if I could get first-come-first-serve the day before entry at the Mammoth ranger station. It turned out I got the first-come-first-serve Little Lakes Valley permit, cancelled the reservation and ran my trip as per the original Plan A. Another thing that can happen is that unforeseen circumstances may alter a trip plan even if you have the reservation you want. This worked out well for me in 2008 when picking up my permit to go out of Rancheria for Tehepite (and loop out via Goddard Creek and Tunemah, the "Tunepite" plan). There was a fire burning in Tehepite (which would burn all year, as it turned out) so I opted for going out of Hoffman Mtn.(Ranger told me Hoffman Mtn counted as "Rancheria" under the entry quota because there is no Hoffman Mtn entry, but he would have adjusted to the paperwork to Woodchuck or other ne3ar to Blue Canyon to Tunemah then looping back through Woodchuck Country (Tunechuck 2008, arguably my all time greatest off trail backpack and fishing experience I've had). The bottom line is that you can always find a Plan B or C or D of equal appeal in the High Sierra. It is a huge mountain range with so many amazing places, so advanced planning to set alternatives is a good idea, even if one usually gets their Plan A. Even though I've been backpacking up there for 50 years plus and try to always do something new for my best trips, I still have multiple "new" options that more or less equally attractive.