Before we had left Independence we had come up with kind of a crazy plan. We would carry four nights, five days worth of food in order to get to VVR or the Vermillion Valley Resort. It is expensive to ship things there so instead we were going to do a two day, one night resupply to Reds Meadow where we would again resupply for one night, two days in order to get to Tuolme Meadows where Cameron’s friend Kenzie would come pick us up. Bottom line is we only packed enough food to get to VVR and so we had to get there. From Seger Creek we had a 19 mile day down to the VVR ferry. Oh yeah, because VVR is on the other side of a very large lake and the only way to get there is to catch the ferry, which runs in the AM and PM and stops running around 4pm. Even though we had gotten in late we got up early to get going. We had to over Selden Pass and do another 1,000ft climb before getting down to VVR, and passes always take longer than you want them to.
Sure enough the going on Selden was slow and we were barely making time. Our breaks were short and pretty soon we were cruising down the final descent, heading towards the side trail that would take us to the ferry. After the 1.2 mile long side trail we came in sight of the boat, pulled up to some rocks, and some recently departed hikers told us to get moving, apparently it was the last one of the day. We high tailed it. There were already four other hikers getting their packs strapped onto the boat, but even though the boat was technically full the driver agreed to squeeze us in. We breathed a sigh of relief.
The boat ride itself was long and very wet. You don’t even need a shower afterwards. No, you still need a shower because you have five days worth of hiking grime on your body. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect from VVR. It was called a resort, but it was supposedly a real hiker place, which usually means not very nice. It ended up being lovely (for the most part). There is a small store, a nice bath house, laundry, and a little restaurant that is open for breakfast and dinner. Your first beer is on them. At the store you begin a tab, which is trusting since everything is basically on the honor system, but clever on their behalf because you totally loose track of how much you are spending. We got our beer and headed to the shower house. Intent on saving money we split an eight minute shower, scrubbing frantically and then leaping out of the shower and into clothes so the next person could get clean. It was at this point I got to put on the incredible mumu I had found in the hiker clothes box. It even had pockets. Life was good. For dinner the restaurant served veggies, mashed potatoes and a quarter chicken. It is such a pleasure to actually eat enough food. For desert I ate three ice cream sandwiches.
Of course, everything was all peachy keen at VVR. The store tab system was fairly organized but other than that VVR functioned on complete chaos. For example, there was no system to getting your clothes washed. There seemed to be a line of dirty clothes piles on a table in the laundry room, but with only one washer if the people in front of you weren’t on top of washing their clothes you were kind of screwed. We got our clothes into line right after showering, but around eight o’clock we learned that they shut the power off for the night at ten o’clock. At that point we were two piles from getting our clothes washed so we began hunting down the wonders of the other piles in order to keep things moving. Around nine thirty we realized we weren’t going to get our clothes in so we washed them by hand in the sink and got them into the dryer for a couple of minutes before the lights went out. Our plan was to finish drying them over breakfast and then catch the first ferry out.
The power turned back on at seven the next morning and we were back to drying our clothes in no time. For breakfast there were giant breakfast burritos and stacks of pancakes. And then the disappointing part of the day started. We waited for three hours to get on the ferry back to the trail. Three hours. We had a nineteen mile day planned that day, but as each hour passed the plan had to be rethought. Finally we got ourselves on a ferry out and were hitting the trail. At that point our plan was just to get as far as we could, at least over Silver Pass, which was our first climb out of VVR. We did that and went further. Once the sun started to fade all the thunder heads which had been hiding behind the surrounding mountains seemed to hit the peaks and dissipate in a flourish over their tops, lighting up in the pinks and purples of sunset. Right as this was happening we reached Lake Virgina, which was curiously mosquito free, so we decided to stay for dinner. After dinner we went another three miles and slept by Purple Lake. A sixteen mile day in the end. There is something about the cooling blues and greys of the coming night that lend tired bodies new energy.