Hi Dan, I did this trip in March 2009. To sum things up: Gorgeous scenery, absurdly disgusting trail. The most Horsesh*t I've ever encountered on any trail (including the JMT). I recall also seeing about 100 loose packets of dairy creamer scattered on the trail ( I think they fell off a mule), a decapitated fox head, and just tons of trash. Don't expect too much interaction/friendliness from the local tribe...just tons of glares.
Definitely have to step off trail a lot for the mule caravans. Tons of dust, but that's natural given the environment. Footware is tricky. Trail runners with mesh let in an unbelievable amount of dust (first time I've ever had to stop to empty out shoes), but at the same time, we had some calf high water crossings (only if you decide to go past the main falls, to mooney falls), so we needed quick draining shoes. Lose-lose situation. Dirty girl gaiters probably would have been miracle workers for this trip.
Bring burlier stakes...my ti shepard hoods would not hold a dam.n in the loose sandy soil. It's very windy down by the campground
Oh, they even have a helicopter to take hikers who are too lazy to do the uphill hike out. This also foreshadows the type of crowds you will see down there. Everything from families, to frat bros, to guys you would see on this forum
All said, I loved this trip, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Amazing amazing scenery.
Hike in running shorts, that way you can use them as swim trunks as well. Days are unbelievably hot...we started hiking at 5am to beat to sun on the way out. Also, IIRC, the campgrounds charged quite a chunk of change to camp there...the most I've ever paid. But at the same time, the poverty level down there is ridiculous, and I suspect that their campgrounds/services support much of the local economy.