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Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel
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(jsj42) - F
Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel on 02/25/2011 19:36:14 MST Print View

I'm going to be sending a resupply box to VVR this summer. I've heard that they have a donation barrel where hikers who have extra supplies they don't want to carry can leave them for others. I've also heard that, by late in the season, these barrels are overflowing. Does anyone have any personal experience with these things (really, I'm wondering if I could lighten my load by a day's worth of food counting on being able to come up with a couple meal's worth of edibles from this barrel)? If so, at what point in the season does it start filling up?

On a related note, I'm going to be taking a couple rest days here and there to explore. Is VVR a great place to spend a full day, or would I be better off just picking up my resupply and passing through to something more interesting?

Thanks!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel on 02/25/2011 19:43:57 MST Print View

I guess you know that VVR is not directly on the JMT. For some hikers, the boat time and increased cost is getting a bit much.

--B.G.--

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(jsj42) - F
VVR... on 02/25/2011 19:51:46 MST Print View

I don't want this to drift too far off-topic, but if I want to do a resupply further south (ie not at Reds Meadow), what's the most efficient way? Concerns would be minimal hiking in/out and a safe (from bears/theft) location to store food for a week or two until I arrive?

Edited by jsj42 on 02/25/2011 19:52:36 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: VVR... on 02/25/2011 20:00:06 MST Print View

The three commonly-used spots are Red's Meadow, VVR, and Muir Trail Ranch.

Additionally, a few hike out over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley, resupply in Independence, and return. The variation on that is to get somebody to deliver your food box to Onion Valley by car. The other variation is to get somebody to deliver your food box over Kearsarge Pass to the JMT junction. There are some other alternatives, but they get messy.

In the vicinity of MTR, some people have a friend deliver a food box across Florence Lake to the JMT junction there. That can be done by ferry or by trail.

--B.G.--

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(jsj42) - F
Muir Trail Ranch... on 02/25/2011 20:17:27 MST Print View

Ok, after studying the map closely, MTR looks like a much better option - just the right amount further south. Plus, hot springs. $50 per 25 lbs + $2 per extra pound... ouch. Still, this will probably end up being a wash with VVR with the ferry and all.

Edited by jsj42 on 02/25/2011 20:19:34 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Muir Trail Ranch... on 02/25/2011 20:20:52 MST Print View

J J, I don't remember the actual cost, but I suspect that you can find out quickly.

Lots of backpackers complain about the cost, but then if it turns out to be the best solution, that means that the free market system is operating.

There are hot springs at MTR, and then there is Blaney Hot Spring nearby.

[ I just looked it up, and it is $50 per bucket. ]

--B.G.--

Edited by --B.G.-- on 02/25/2011 20:24:33 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
VVR "Free" Barrel on 02/25/2011 20:30:51 MST Print View

If you are headed south-bound on the JMT, carry a little extra food from Red's Meadow and skip VVR entirely. Send a resupply bucket to Muir Trail Ranch. Yes, the charge for holding is more expensive than VVR, but......

1) you avoid the cost and scheduling constraints of the boat ride, plus a potentially expensive - but reportedly worth it - stay and feast.

2) you get to climb Bear Ridge with only 1 day of food in your pack, not a full resupply for 7 or more days. This alone is worth the extra weight coming out of red's.

3) MTR is a short, easy, albeit steep, downhill detour for SOBO JMT hikers, and the other trail back to the JMT is very gentle. It is less fun for NOBOs.

4) you'll have access to the hikers' box at MTR (which is NOT available to walk-ins; only to those picking up a bucket there.)


There are heavy metal bear boxes in the parking lot at Onion Valley that are available to the public. However, they are out in the direct sun all day, so be sure what you leave there can take the heat. The bear boxes in the campground are reserved for the individual campsites.

The side trip over Kearsarge Pass (and back over it to the JMT again) is worth the effort. There is a pack station at Onion Valley that will hold packages or pack your supplies in to you along the trail. The latter is only economical for a group.

The most economical and timesaving option is from Kearsarge Pass to points along the Muir Trail and adjacent areas. One can hike out to the Onion Valley station, which is now manned continuously.

For information, email to pinecreekps@aol.com or bernerspack@yahoo.com; Phone them at 800-962-0775, 760-387-2627, 760-387-2797; or mail requests to PO Box 968, Bishop, CA 93515.

Edited by wandering_bob on 02/25/2011 20:33:10 MST.

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(jsj42) - F
MTR, Onion Valley on 02/25/2011 20:45:46 MST Print View

Thanks for all the info! MTR looks best, I think Onion Valley is too far south for my tastes. I'm googling Blaney Hot Springs...

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Fuel at MTR on 02/25/2011 21:38:45 MST Print View

Added advantage to MTR:

You do not have to send any fuel to MTR. They sell white gas, alcohol, MSR gas cannisters (the 12 oz size), and even my beloved ESBIT TABLETS.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Fuel at MTR on 02/25/2011 22:05:33 MST Print View

Bob, I don't think that I have ever seen a 12-ounce size MSR butane canister. What do they look like?

--B.G.--

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Fuel at MTR on 02/25/2011 22:13:24 MST Print View

That's probably because 12 oz is the gross weight; 8 oz of gas plus 4 oz of canister. The MSR canisters are red.

Compressed propane-butane canisters come in 2 sizes - the smaller 8 oz (3-1/2 oz of gas)and the larger 12 oz (8 oz of gas) canister. They'll fit most canister stoves. You can get them at REI or any outdoor store. MSR is only one of many brands.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Fuel at MTR on 02/25/2011 23:07:45 MST Print View

That's just a terminology difference. You call them by the gross weight. I call them by the net weight, which is the same as the label weight.

--B.G.--

Bill Richardson
(brichardson) - F
Muir Trail Ranch on 02/26/2011 12:09:09 MST Print View

One comment about MTR - they aren't particularly hiker friendly. Hikers are NOT their focus - they rent out MTR to entire groups. They may be closer to the trail - but you probably won't feel very welcome there.

It's a mile off the trail to the boat dock, and then a 15 minute boat ride across the lake to VVR.

If you're planning on taking a zero day - I recommend taking it at VVR rather than MTR. You'll have much more fun.

Nothing against MTR - it's just that hikers aren't their market there. They'll tell you that themselves.

But we LOVE hikers ;)

Bill Richardson
(Webmaster, VVR)

P.S. Mono Hot Springs is just a short drive or hike from VVR - you can usually catch a ride there and back with someone at VVR. It's only about 10 minutes down the road by car.

Our resupply is $25, and the round trip ferry is $18... that's still cheaper than MTR by $7.

Edited by brichardson on 02/26/2011 12:13:18 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Muir Trail Ranch on 02/26/2011 12:40:53 MST Print View

Bill, you could consider a new service for a different price. Deliver food resupplies to the other end of Lake Edison on a specified day.

--B.G.--

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(jsj42) - F
VVR on 02/26/2011 13:54:57 MST Print View

Bill,

Care to comment on my question about the barrel (the original post)? I appreciate your input! I guess the other question is who has better home-cooked food? :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: VVR on 02/26/2011 14:02:26 MST Print View

It will be interesting to hear what he says.

Everybody tells me that the primary reason to go to VVR is to sample their pies. Of course, some backpacker coming off a week or two on the trail has a lot of vulnerability toward pies.

--B.G.--

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(jsj42) - F
Huh. on 02/26/2011 19:34:45 MST Print View

Now I'm leaning towards VVR. Cheaper, possibly friendlier, plus pies. The ferry ride could be fun, and if I can time it such that I catch a PM ferry in, spend the night, take the AM ferry out... I'm basically back on the trail w/o having lost any time + it could make for an interesting diversion. The drawback is carrying a few extra lbs of food for the last half of the trail.

Edited by jsj42 on 02/26/2011 19:35:50 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Huh. on 02/26/2011 20:05:22 MST Print View

Bill could expand the marketing of VVR by sending a fresh pie across the lake on the first ferry ride of the morning. Backpackers near the ferry landing would be drawn in. They could sell "ready-to-go" pie slices.

I was discussing the VVR pie situation with a person who worked there last season. I suggested that they should make a "backpacker special pie" that would be small diameter so that it would fit into a bear canister.

--B.G.--

Robert Perkins
(rp3957)

Locale: The Sierras
VVR Resort on 02/26/2011 20:35:42 MST Print View

Bill Richardson, I think it is awesome that you follow these posts here! My dilemma every year I hike the JMT is to re-supply at VVR or MTR. I loath the way they treat hikers at MTR, but I have a hard time with getting such a late start after staying at VVR. I know you offer an earlier shuttle, but it is a little pricey for most people. I would like to make a suggestion of possibly offering an 'early bird' morning shuttle for a reasonable rate so we can get an early start up Bear Ridge or Silver Pass. Also, the mileage listed on the maps I have seen show the mileage as 1.4 to Lake Edison, when the lake is down, it's more than that. I love how hiker friendly your place is, and it is an awesome rest and resupply stop. Keep it up! I hope to see you soon. I am going out again this summer and I am already trying to decide which way to go...decisions, decisions.

Edited by rp3957 on 02/27/2011 07:41:04 MST.

Bill Richardson
(brichardson) - F
VVR Resupply on 02/27/2011 21:32:22 MST Print View

Bob - we've actually talked about delivering resupply to the other end of the lake. The problem with that is the logistics nightmare it would create when people are early or late on their estimates (since we can't leave packages on that side).

JJ - sorry for not answering your question originally. The hiker barrel gets pretty full later in the season, mid - late July. You can usually pick up one or two day's worth of food no problem. The only issue is that occasionally, we have to clean out the barrel - it really is just a barrel, and some of the food at the bottom can get a bit funky over time. So, we usually ask a hiker or two to do the cleanout (in the past, we've been accused of picking things out of the barrel and selling them in the store - so to keep those rumors from starting again, we let the hikers do it). Anyway - if you're there right after a cleanup, pickings might be low.

As for who's got the better food? Why, us... of course ;)

Actually, MTR's probably got really good food - but they don't open their restaurant to hikers like we do. They don't cater to the hikers or to the general public, but rather to the folks who reserve lodging there... so they bring in a cook and a limited amount of food. I've heard that hikers have from time to time been able to get a burger or sandwich there... but you won't find the weekend BBQs (tri-tip, ribs and chicken with baked potato and salad... and PIE) ;)

And of course, you're right... you won't find our pies ANYWHERE except for VVR. It's been a VVR tradition going back to Butch that the current owner has happily continued.

OH... and did I mention that the first beverage is free to the thru hiker?

And, I will warn you - we are more expensive than the stores in towns - we are in the wilderness, 3 hours from the nearest store... so, just be prepared and make sure your bill doesn't sneak up on you, and you'll have a great time.

Yeah, the boat dock is about 1.3-1.4 miles from the trail... the lake is FULL this year, so no extra walking ;)

Bill

P.S. Robert - you can always schedule an early shuttle if enough hikers want to go out early on a particular morning.

Edited by brichardson on 02/27/2011 21:34:42 MST.