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Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel
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Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: VVR vs MTR vs Onion Ranch. on 07/08/2011 20:11:49 MDT Print View

Sorry, just to get it straight. MRT is one day south of VVR.

How much further away far is Onion Valley, how much of detour is it off the JMT (will one have to hitchhike to access re-supply) and is it really expensive for a solo hiker (a lot less than 25 lbs) to have food waiting in Onion Valley's metal lockers?

Thanks. Might see some of you out there in August-Sept.

Edited by elf773 on 07/08/2011 21:10:44 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: RE: VVR vs MTR vs Onion Ranch. on 07/08/2011 20:39:35 MDT Print View

There is no such place as Onion Ranch. Perhaps you meant Onion Valley, which is east of Kearsarge Pass.


Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: RE: VVR vs MTR vs Onion Ranch. on 07/08/2011 22:33:53 MDT Print View


From your inquiry, it sounds like you don't have much in the way of documentation on the JMT. I'd suggest you get some FAST and study it or you could be in for a rough trip. You really need to know what the next trail feature is and how far ahead it is.

To answer your question.....

Red's Meadow Resort to the Edison Lake trail jct (to VVR) is 29 miles (+ 1 to the boat dock)

Edison Lake TJ to MTR is 20 miles + 3/4 mile down the side trail

MTR to the Bullfrog Lake/Kearsarge Pass trail jct with the JMT is 73 miles

BL/KP jct (over Kearsarge Pass) to Onion Valley CG is 7 miles

Repeat those 7 miles to return to the JMT.

See my earlier post regarding the bear lockers by the OV parking lot. Also see my post regarding the OV Pack Station, which will hold a resupply box for you (more expensive than MTR). A hitch down to Independence is easy; every car leaving OV is going through there. Getting back to OV is not so easy.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Thanks Bob.. on 07/09/2011 02:13:29 MDT Print View

Thanks Bob for the mileage info. it's what I needed to know.

I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth it for me to re-supply twice, or just get a bigger food canister. I need to order one soon if I decide to do the JMT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
MTR VS VVR on 08/23/2011 15:34:10 MDT Print View

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 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 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 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.


Edited by Valshar on 08/23/2011 15:37:51 MDT.

Marcus Dyson

Locale: Yorkshire, UK
Re: MTR VS VVR on 02/18/2012 07:24:55 MST Print View


Thanks for taking the time to post that comprehensive, concise and detailed report of your experience at VVR. I've seen lot of negative comments about the place, but it still appeals. After reading yours, and Bill's comments about VVR, I feel somewhat reassured. Cost is not my main concern, having a good experience is. I appreciate that food and drink the boonies is not going to be as cheap as at my local store.

I'm hoping to SoBo the JMT in late August/Early September, and was unsure of my resupply strategy. I think I will stop by Reds for a meal and to use the store, Zero Day at VVR and collect a bucket at MTR for the final push. This way, I avoid carrying too heavy a pack up Bear Ridge, and I minimise the amount I need to carry on the last push to Whitney.

Having gotten this decided is a relief to me. I've sorted my gear list, and begun buying the stuff I need. Just permits and transport to/from the endpoints to sort out now. I have a buddy who will drop me at Yosemite, but getting back from Whitney Portal is going to be the challenge.


ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
back from Whitney Portal on 02/18/2012 09:39:20 MST Print View

Marcus - thumbs out and we got a lift down to Lone Pine very easily (probably even easier if solo) from WP....lot's of Whitney hikers with only one way to go...

Stayed at Lone Pine and got the bus to Car Hire at Ridgecrest (dropped the car in LA).

David K
(aviddk) - F

Locale: SW Oregon
WP shuttle options on 02/18/2012 14:18:35 MST Print View

>I have a buddy who will drop me at Yosemite, but getting back from Whitney Portal is going to be the challenge


It's the time or money issue here like it is everywhere. If you are short of time time but have money, hire a shuttle. I was quoted $350 from the Portal to Mammoth Lakes where one can catch Yarts to the valley and points west.
If you have some time take Eastern Sierra transit authority bus from lone pine to Mammoth after sharing a ride or hiring a shuttle off the mountain. The bus runs M-W-F and leaves at 5PM. They also have multiple daily runs from Lone Pine to Bishop and between Bishop and Mammoth.

If you have unlimited time hope you find a ride while enjoying your burger and fries at the portal store or hitchhike back to the valley. With all the BPL members doing the JMT in August you could get really lucky and have a ride wired before leaving home.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
portal to Yosemite on 02/18/2012 20:13:35 MST Print View

From the Portal to Yosemite is not too hard to do but it does take some time. It's easy to hitch a ride down to Lone Pine since thre are so many hikers coming and going. Once in Lone pine yu can catch a CREST bus to Mammoth and get the YARTS bus there to Yosemite. The thing is that it taeks a couple days to do it since the CRESt buses basically go once a day and connecting with the YARTS schedule is hard, so you're likely to spend a night in Lone Pine (Mt. Whitney Hostel is the place to be) and maybe another in Mammoth in order to make it work. Or, as has been mentioned you pay more and make it simpler. Various ways to do it.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: portal to Yosemite on 02/18/2012 20:21:15 MST Print View

In Lone Pine, there is one bus that you DO NOT want to board. During the summer, one bus makes regular runs heading north or south along Highway 395. Headed south, it says "Camp Pendleton" and headed north, it says "MWTC." That is the U.S. Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center near Sonora Pass. If you go there, everything is the opposite of ultralightweight.


gunther kirsch
(goonch92) - F

Locale: Northern California
Awesome place little free food, but free beer! on 03/06/2012 12:51:32 MST Print View

My experience with the resort was awesome we went there last year so a budy could pick up a resuplly. glad we did! we were welcomed by the general manager a he told us FIRST BEER WAS FREE! that in itself is reason to go... but the boat ride cost 10 bucks one way if im not mistaken so consider that before your trip. also when i got there in late july almost august the barrels were EMPTY i put some extra food in there but i would NOT realy on them.

either way go to VVR awesome people beautiful view off the lake and ofcourse


Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel on 08/06/2012 16:50:53 MDT Print View

I realize this is an ancient thread, but you can hike to and from VVR and skip paying for the boat ride if money is a concern (and time isn't.) It's a long hike though.

I did a section hike that ended going over Bishop Pass. This was a beautiful segment through Dusy Basin. I stopped briefly at Parcher's Resort about a mile from the trailhead to take a shower and then hitch to Bishop. A JMT hiker arrived while I was there and picked up his resupply package there. So Parcher's Resort is another option if you want to try something different and take the time to see Dusy Basin and Bishop Pass. I didn't check their small store to see what they stocked. My guess is they didn't have a lot of stuff.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) "Free" Barrel on 08/06/2012 17:19:59 MDT Print View

You should be able to hike in vs. taking the ferry.

Ferry is $11 one way and $18 round trip.

Note- Taxi service down currently, due to low water.

From their website:

Hiker's Water Taxi
Our ferry boat, The Edison Queen, travels on the lake from approximately June 1st to October 1st depending on the back country snow conditions and our visitors requirements. It runs seven days a week with special departures upon request. The boat dock at the mouth of Mono Creek is less than a mile from the main PCT/JMT trail.

NOTE: Since the ferry was removed this season because of a low lake, hikers must hike into the resort. Signs have been posted at the trail junctions to direct hikers to the resort. We are offering JMT / PCT hikers shuttles to Bear Creek Cut-off and/or Bear Ridge trailheads for $10 / person upon leaving the resort.

When the water taxi is in the water, the following schedule applies (from approximately June through October):


9:00 am... Leave Vermilion Valley Resortâ„¢

9:45 am... Leave Mono Creek Landing


4:00 pm... Leave Vermilion Valley Resort

4:45 pm... Leave Mono Creek Landing

Fare for the water taxi is $11 per person one way, $18 round trip, and can be purchased in the general store.
No reservations are needed.

Special Ferry runs can be arranged throughout the day. The charge is $11 per person, with a $75 minimum.


Edited by Valshar on 08/06/2012 17:31:24 MDT.