I just returned from the JMT and wanted to comment back on this thread.
I resupplied at Reds Meadow and MTR and stayed 1 full day at VVR for a day of rest.
Reds Meadow and VVR were the best places to stay and hang out at.
Jim at VVR was just a pleasure to be around- warm, welcoming, and casual.
I would HIGHLY recommend that you make a point of staying the day at VVR for a day of rest and for the unique social enviroment there.
Their store is decently stocked, but we did find out that they were out of Esbit fuel.
Jim explained that this year there has been a sudden run on esbit vs. years past....no doubt, due to the popularity of the Caldera Cone.
Upon hearing that we had called before hand to see if they had esbit and that it was our only source of fuel for our stoves (Caldera Cone- we did not bring the alcohol stoves), he immediately called to a friend/employee and asked him to stop a local REI and to bring up the esbit to VVR the next day in the afternoon.
Talk about going the extra mile vs. telling us, "Oh well!"
As promised, the 1st beer was free....I walked up to the cold storage section, pulled the door open, grabbed a beer and then walked up to the counter.
Jim was on the phone and I simply pointed to the bottle and said in a low tone of voice, "1st beer." and he simply gave me the thumbs ups and let me go on my way.
Much about VVR was like that....trusting that we would do the right thing by him.
We setup a tab with just our word.
Jim wrote down our names on a slip of paper....no credit card or cash upfront asked for.
When we received our bills for our meals, we just walked over to the counter and Jim or his employees pulled our tab and wrote down the cost and we told them how much extra to add for a tip.
Hot shower with a towel was $6 and laundry was $6.
Showers are not coin op or on a timer...just a simply bathroom with lovely hot water.
Soap dispenser on the wall for body and hair. Clean setup.
It was soooo nice to get cleaned up and to wash the dust off the trail.
Yeah, you can blow $100 if you spend the whole day there and more if you drink beer like a fish.
But take this into consideration.
We met a guy on the trail who started his trip there and paid $180 for a shuttle to take him from Fresno (???) to VVR. ($180 was the cost for two people and $25 per additional head, but he was solo).
VVR is out there and getting food and supplies to VVR can not be easy or cheap.
Prices seemed fair and reasonable considering the remote location.
Cliff bar was $1.87.
My breakfast, heavenly chicken fried steak to die for after days on the trail, with orange juice ran me about $13.50-$15.
My tab was about $90 for four square meals with juice type drink, 2 cliff bars for the trail, and that also covered the $20 for the two ferry rides.
More than the cost of what I spent there, I just have to say that Reds Meadow and VVR offered a great place to stop and recharge the batteries....a very trusting and casual atmosphere that were definitely highlights on my JMT journey.
I was able to charge my camera batteries and my friend, Jeremy, was able to charge his cell phone and even get wi-fi access for email on his iPhone for something like $20 for the whole day, which allowed us to send emails to family.
The collection of various and interesting JMT backpackers was great...talked and made friend on the outdoor bar attached to the main building.
Fire pit close by at night was fun to sit around and socialize further.
As for the rumors of VVR selling things from the hiker barrels....crap!
I pulled a perfectly good bottle of camp suds from the barrel to reload my BPL dropper bottle and used some of the extra in the shower as extra soap (they did not run out, but since I had the bottle I used some of the soap). If the rumors where true, they could have easily put that bottle on their shelf and sold it. Frankly, it looked like it has been purchased from their store.
As for resupply at VVR or MTR, well, I have to say, I would resupply at MTR ONLY because of their location.
The experience at MTR was the complete opposite of VVR....I won't go into detail other than to say that MTR offers you your bucket, a shaded place to pack your food, and some water....no restroom. Their store is very limited. Best to buy your supplies at VVR.
MTR: Please take your resupply and move on. They were not rude, but the experience was cold.
Reds Meadows was great....big store but they were out of stock of canister fuel (the smaller 8 oz and 4 oz canisters). Friendly people at the store and restuarant. Good food for a reasonable price, but slow service. Only one server there.
Anyway, I wanted to put up my experience to share with everyone.
If you doing the JMT, you owe it to yourself to experience this special place- VVR.