A Short Trip in the Pioneer Basin Area
I thought I would show you right up front why you would want to go the the Pioneer Basin area. This is a small tarn at the lip of Pioneer Basin looking towards the Fourth and Third Recess and Mono Rock.
A VVR Boat RideA Pioneer Basin Trip from Edison Lake, June 2003
Day 1: Trailhead to Mono Creek, ~9 hiking miles and ~2000 foot gain.
Again, as usual, the trip to Edison Reservoir was uneventful and the same pleasant drive it always was, with clear views of the Minarets from Kaiser Pass and of the Mono and San Joaquin drainage's. As I said before, I noted that people continue to burn up their breaks getting down to the springs. Driving slowly while riding your breaks is not the way to do it.
We arrived near the backcountry Ranger Station in the evening, a station with excellent views over the whole area. Near the station was a campground where we camped mainly backpacker style. It got dark fairly soon be we still managed to have a look around and meet some people. Very early the next morning we swiftly broke camp and parked near the Ranger Station to have a backpacker breakfast. We were sitting around jawing after breakfast when one of the Rangers arrived early. She took pity on us for waiting and issued us a permit. A very nice person. After that we high-tailed it down to Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR).
Part of the choice for this particular trip was again due to the new National Parks regulations requiring the mostly unnecessary small heavy bear canisters. For that reason I did not get an annual pass that year, or a bear canister for that matter. This policy left us with a somewhat narrower choice for trips, but still many worthwhile ones that did not have a silly bear canister requirement.
We stopped at Vermilion Valley Resort to buy our boat tickets, noting that the place was finally sold to someone who we were to meet later. Butch, the owner of VVR died, and now it was under new ownership. I found out that it was bought by a good mountaineer fellow who is keeping the traditions of the VVR alive. Excellent.
We also noticed that the place was crawling with PCTers. The VVR is a major food pickup point (as is Muir Trail Ranch). We tried to make our acquaintances with as many of the PCTers as possible. I have to say, the PCT was doing some of the ladies real good. Nothing like a totally fit good looking woman. I would not want to arm wrestle any of them.
After a snack and a ticket purchase, we all headed out to the ferry to PCT/JMT at the other end of the lake. A few day-hikers joined us, and it was amusing to see the long line of backpacks stacked along the middle of the boat. We had a full load.
The VVR ferry disgorging a heap of backpackers and day-hikers.
The ride out to the JMT/PCT is worth coming out to the VVR all by itself. I have had some great moments at the VVR and nearby, and I could spend weeks just near the VVR and be happy. Plenty to do and see for me. Particularly that time of year, the reservoir is full and the often calm waters nicely reflect the long arms of granite and evergreen mountains on either side of the lake. As you reach the drop-off point, you can look down into the clear waters and see rocks the size of houses.