Feb 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm #1269730
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!Feb 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm #1701682
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.–Feb 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm #1701686
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?Feb 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm #1701691
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.–Feb 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm #1701699
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.Feb 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm #1701700
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.–Feb 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm #1701702
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.Feb 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm #1701707
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…Feb 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm #1701721
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.Feb 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm #1701726
Bob, I don't think that I have ever seen a 12-ounce size MSR butane canister. What do they look like?
–B.G.–Feb 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1701728
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.Feb 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm #1701736
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.–Feb 26, 2011 at 11:09 am #1701868
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 ;)
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.Feb 26, 2011 at 11:40 am #1701883
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.–Feb 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm #1701917
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? :)Feb 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm #1701922
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.–Feb 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm #1702046
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.Feb 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm #1702063
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.–Feb 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm #1702077
@rp3957Locale: The Sierras
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.Feb 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm #1702486
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 ;)
P.S. Robert – you can always schedule an early shuttle if enough hikers want to go out early on a particular morning.Feb 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm #1702499
MTR is easier to get to and they were plenty friendly enough. I plan on using them again this year on my PCT trip. Reasons for MTR on JMT:
1) Easier, don't have to be hostage to a boat schedule. If you miss the boat you either walk it or wait half a day It can be easy in and out at MTR.
2) Bear Ridge is a royal pain, As Bob mentioned carrying a light pack up that section is appreciated.
3) VVR is notorious for sucking peoples money out their wallet. (Bill as much as confirmed that) Read some PCT journals. (I'm sure they are great people as well as great business people.
4) Hot springs. They feel great at that point in the hike.
5) Free Barrel. We scored two MH Meals and made an absolute feast out of our eening meal. It was an all you can eat affair. The two MH dinners were fabulouus on the approach to Muir Pass the next day.
6) Location further south. It cuts down a heavy multiday carry by 1 day.
And finally I have to call foul to have VVR come on here and bad mouth their competition. MTR does have the rep for being hiker unfreindly but it could just be that VVR started the story. Yellow flag thrown!!!!Feb 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm #1702502
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
deletedFeb 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm #1702517
@marti124Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
MTR built a lot more tent cabins to be able to take short-stay reservations. They have a separate page for such at their web site. When I was there last year (I've been there 3 years now), the only other people staying overnight there were JMT hikers.Feb 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm #1702530
Most people you know… $120-$180!? I find this hard to believe. My math is as follows: $18 for a roundtrip ferry ticket + $18 resupply fee + $6 for laundry + $6 for a shower + $29 for three meals (though I probably won't eat three full meal there) = $77. I wouldn't even know where to begin spending another $40 let alone $100! Ah, but if most of the people you know are from Boulder, well, perhaps it makes sense then.Feb 27, 2011 at 10:42 pm #1702531
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
what does a meal cost? i remember entrees being around $20…
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