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VVR: Vermilion Valley Resort Backpacker Resupply
Note: This is a placeholder page, and will be filled with more information at some future point in time as I complete the Trail Guide's South. Vermilion will also get a feature page on the upcoming South Sierra Trail Guide, though it will feature poor services, poor equipment, and rude staff...
The Old VVR vs The New VVR
As you will see, VVR has been one of my favorite resupply spots between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney since 1998. Unfortunately the quality of staff and services has fallen dramatically during the past six years and no longer qualifies to be recommended as a backpacker rest and resupply location for hikers on the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails.
I strongly suggest bypassing Vermilion Valley Resort during your Pacific Crest and John Muir Trail adventures.
I have visited Vermilion 5 times during the last 15 years. During my last 3 visits Vermilion's backpacker hospitality and services have radically declined. My visit during 2012 found Vermilion's services no longer justify backpackers on the PCT & JMT routes stopping or detouring to get ripped off by VVR.
You will be a lot better off using Muir Ranch and Reds Meadow as your resupply spots along this section of the JMT and PCT. The reasons are simple and clear:
Vermilion Valley has degraded into a backpacker ripoff spot.
Staff are rude and uncaring, services are second-rate if they even work, and the ownership is absent. Hospitality is absent, backpackers are made to feel unwelcome, and the staff was OPENLY bragging about how rude they are to backpackers.
I took notes as I listened to "Olive" bragging about how rude she is to backpackers, and how she trained the other waitress to be rude to backpackers. I must say she is no liar, that she is the rudest person I have met on or along the trail for many years, and she well-trained the other waitress to be cold and uncaring.
This place needs new ownership and new staff.
Stay the heck away from this backpacker rip-off Spot.
Arriving at VVR after spending the extra effort to hike in due to the low level of Lake Thomas Edison I was shocked to be continually insulted and abused by staff.
This was followed up by the failure of their washing machine while doing my clothes and the subsequent failure of the dryer. Three backpackers were sitting almost naked waiting for a solution to having all their clothes sitting in a broken washing machine full of dirty water as the evening chill deepened.
No one who worked their gave a shit.
I took charge of the situation for the backpackers, and insisted that the Staff come up with a solution for me and the three other almost-naked backpackers with their clothes trapped by defective low-quality washers and dryers.
Staff Response: "Be quiet."
Following this breakdown I attempted to get a hot shower. The staff said, "oh, maybe the water heater is out again..." when I asked why the water was ice cold.
I then took it on myself to inform the Jap hiker who spoke no English how to finish washing and drying his clothes after the staff abandoned him to the broken machines.
Vermilion was virtually a complete waste of my time and money. I strongly recomend that backpackers avoid being taken advantage of by Vermilion Valley Resort and avoid this pit at all costs.
Kevin the Chef allowed us almost naked backpackers to finish our clothes using the kitchen's washer and dryer. It was nice to see someone give a damn. Thanks Chef.
After the rude treatment by staff I did not want to spend a cent at VVR, so I skipped dinner. Those of you who know just how hungry I get on the trail know how big of a sacrifice this was. Damn, I really needed a fresh good meal, but could not enjoy the fine fare at VVR due to the rudeness of the dining room staff.
The Old VVR
Though I'm not prepped to do a VVR resupply page, I was recently thinking of Butch and Peg, VVR's last owners. This stimulated me to put up the following note.
Butch and Peg
RIP to Butch, of Butch and Peg, the previous owners of VVR. I've got stories. Just wait. That couple took care of backpackers. I saw and experienced their relentless hospitality.
I was seriously shocked and saddened to hear of Butch's death, and I urged Peg to keep VVR, and the spirit of the place going. But that place is a huge workload to maintain, let alone provide retail services while raising two young daughters.
My best wishes go out to Peg, and I hope she and her two beautiful daughters are doing well. Hell, I can sleep later. let me tell you a bit about Peg...
The Spirit of VVR
I always walk into VVR. My JMT route does not stick to the JMT South of Reds Meadow. Instead, I head South into Fish Valley to hike up to Iva Bell Hot Springs. It is totally worth the extra miles and elevation.
After spending two delightful nights at Iva Bell, I departed very early to attempt a one-day hike over to VVR. I made it. It is some tremendous mileage that escapes me now, at 5:08 am. I've done it four times, but only once in one hike. I think it's 27 miles... But the mileage was important to this story, because of what it did to me.
The Hike to VVR
Rather than stop and camp at a logical time, the knowledge that VVR was at the end of the trail pushed me past sunset and right through twilight. I hiked into VVR deep into the dark. When I arrived the bonfire had been lit, and the backpacker circle had formed, well decorated with horsepackers, a couple of fishermen, and a drive-in or two.
As VVR caters to hikers, the kid (Butch and Peg's) who saw me first shouted "walk-in, Mom, walk-in."
This gets Mom, Peg, out to greet the hike, Me. I walked into the store as Peg was coming out to greet me with the customary ice-cold beer and tent cabin deal.
Peg said, "Hey, how you doing?," and I answered with a blank stare highlighted by deep concentration. Peg's eyes narrowed, and she asked me, "where you come from?" I knew where I came from, and I knew how I was, but for the life of me I could not say "Iva Bell," and "hungry as hell." Then Peg asked, "Where you going to?" Again, I knew the signal word that would answer her question, "Whitney," but if my life was in the balance I could not say it.
Peg's gaze sharpened, and she looked me carefully at up and down. She came around from behind the counter, took my hand, and led me into the dining room, which was long closed. The cook (Tiny) and kitchen staff (staffed with backpacker help-as I came to personally know) were busy cleaning up. Peg called back to Tiny, "Tiny, can you make this guy up a dinner?"
The cook looked up, looked at me, and said, "sure. I got a big plate for you." Now I could talk, but I could only muster two words: "No Money."
Peg looked up at me, 'cause she's a short chick, and broke out in a big smile, saying, "Honey, you need food a hell of a lot more than I need money," and broke into a laugh, which the cook and backpacker kitchen help all echoed.
I could not speak because I was bonking and really needed food, which everyone there instantly recognized and dealt with.
I almost frkn cried. Values like that are rare any time and place. I knew right then that I had walked into something special.
Butch joined us at the table as I wolfed down huge slices of roast beef, well lubricated with gravy-drenched mashed potatoes and highlit by stringbeans. Butch pushed a bud over to me, and I said, now being able to speak again, "Butch, I can't stop eating your food, but I can't drink your beer too." Butch got that biker-badass look that fit so well on his Sierra-grizzled face and said, seriously, "you too good to drink with me?"-"At my own table?" I popped the beer.
I understood right then and there that Butch took things seriously. Butch was a chill dude, but he would give you your marching orders if you did not show respect for him, his family, his friends, his guests, and his house. I saw him march many ill-manered people out. I never saw him be rude to anyone who was half-decent.
People learned common sense and courtsey quickly around Butch. I wish he took as well as he gave.
My hiking plan was to pick up my resupply and split quick. Hey, I'm a frkn backpacking bum. If I can't afford it, I gotta go. But I had to do what little I could do to make them good for saving my drained ass. I was crashing hard. I think they call it "bonking."
I asked if they had a phone, and I'd try to pay for the food. They do. It's a very expensive sat phone. I called up my sis and explained my situation. She laughed and said, "stay a couple of days. Here's my credit card #." I did.
That's how I met Butch and Peg.
That's only the first story. The current owner and staff adds layers of personality to this day. Unfortunatly they have sour personalities. The old days are offically over as of 2012. The past is dead.
Jim, the new owner of VVR maintained the style and spirit of VVR, with elements of his character adding new dimensions to this special place, I thought. Unfortunately those character elements are apparently constituted of indifference.
Looks Dashing, don't he? Note the grizzled fishermen heading out to fish Mono Creek...
Vermilion Valley References
VVR trail notes with google road map for auto access.
Trail Guide Resupply Resources: Tahoe to Whitney Backpacker Resupply