You pose a very good question. I've started dozens of trips from Happy Isles, and most of the time had to get a walk-in permit.
Here are the facts: 1) There are a finite number of permits granted for each day/trailhead 2) These permits become available the day before said trip.
I always try to get in line the day before my trip. Sometimes I get the trailhead I want, other times I don't. The more important the trip is to me, the earlier I get in line.
4 weeks ago I got in line at 5:15 a.m. to get a spot for the JMT the following day. My buddy and I got the last permits available, and there were about 20 people behind us. I don't know how many wanted to do the JMT, but they were out of luck.
Clearly, coming from out of country, this trip is important to you. Here's what I recommend: Go to Camp 4 upon arrival and try to get a site. If it's full, look for a small group, tell them your situation and see if they'll let you share their site (people often approach me for this reason because I usually travel solo, and I always allow them to). If for some reason this fails, head to the backpacker campground. Technically it's only for those with wilderness permits (and only for the day before and after your trip) but if you are checked by a ranger my guess is that they would be sympathetic if they heard your situation.
Then, get in line AS EARLY AS YOU CAN. 5 a.m. should do it, but why not get there earlier? As I said, the more important the trip, the earlier you should get there.
Hope this helps.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "noamdav@..." <noamdav@...> wrote:
> I plan to do all, or at least the first parts, of the JMT soutbound I understand that if I want to get a permit from Happy Isles I must be there very early in the morning...the only method to sleep in the Valley for people in my situation is to get a ticket to Camp 4.
> What will be your advice to me?