As of yesterday, noon, the drop-off point at the east end of Edison Lake has been moved almost 2 miles down the trail due to extreme water drops in Lake Edison. It is now dubious if the boat ferry is worth the money, since by the time you get to the present boat landing, you are only an hour and half (about 2.5-3 miles) from the trailhead. The signs they have posted are also very sparse. We, along with several others, yesterday, ended up going to the wrong landing and had to climb up over rock slabs, regain the trail and walk about a half-hour more to meet the boat.
I know it is late, but if you are starting the JMT, I would suggest that you DO NOT make a stop at Vermillion, rather only supply at Muir Ranch.
I agree. I just completed the JMT and talked with several people who went into VVR. All of them mentioned the low water, the long trip to the dock and the absence of signs. They also mentioned the hospitality once they got there but several said that they would bypass the place next time. I resupplied at MTR and was quite happy with the service.
I stopped at Vermillion during my PCT thru hike in 07. There was much talked about drama before arriving. My year also had low water. They had planted an American Flag on the end of rock/sand bar. It was fairly easy to find. Especially because we had about 20 thru hikers taking the ride in to resupply.
Before going I heard a mixture of stories about going or not, based on prices, hospitality etc.
I can't speak for this years water issue. If you have to walk miles to get to the place perhaps the ranch is easier. But if you got a few bucks on ya and want a hot meal and shower check out Vermillion.
As warned I watched what I bought. He likes to have everyone run a tab - this can be bad for those hungry thru hikers who keep getting more and more off the shelves before they have to fist out their cash.
I thought prices were very in line with what a remote camp store would charge. The owner (no clue his name) made an effort to be very kind. A welcoming meeting followed by a free beer. (In face I got a can of budweiser and he told me to put it back and get a bottled of imported beer since it was on him)
To each his own, I enjoyed the campfire with 20 of my friends, one of the few times it happened along the whole PCT. I always welcome a warm shower and a hot cooked meal. Everything was par or better and I am sure it cost me, but It was not so expensive that I even recall how much.
Anyway, if the don't stop here post was based solely on the water issue perhaps I agree. If people are not sure about going because of bad rumors, I suggest you try it for yourself and keep in mind thats its a small, very remote camp store on a lake.
BTW the couple miles coming down to the landing were some of the most floral of my trip also.
I had a great time at VVR during my '06 JMT thruhike. They delivered on the free (1) beer and free bunktent as advertised. The food was so-so and a bit expensive but no more so than any similar camp.
The only negative thing I can say is that I was locked into the ferry schedule so I had to wait a couple of hours on both ends which precluded an early start on the day I left. I know the ferry is optional an it's possible to hike to VVR but it was a very refreshing ride on a hot day.
Once the water is back up to its normal level the water taxi will not be hard to find.
My original post specifically addressed the low water issue. I have no problem with the lodge. The Lake Edison lakebed simply has the geography that low water levels result in dramatic shrinking of the shoreline. Given that there is a good trail that you can walk out on, the ferry does not save a lot of time in very low water years. By the way, daily water levels of reservoirs are available on the California DWR website - google "California DWR CDEC". The other disadvantage of Vermillion Lodge, for PCT or JMT hikers, is that it's location is only a few days from Reds Meadow and Reds Meadows is long enough from Tioga Pass that just about everyone resupplies there. In spite of Vermillion Lodge's geographic disadvantages, they do seem to be very friendly and are trying their best to appeal to long distance hikers. The meals are quite reasonable and good.
As for the boat ferry, I have used both Vermilion and the ferry at Florence Lake, and I thought the Florence Lake ferry was superior. The boats were better and they kept to their schedules. But then PCT hikers do not usually go all the way out - rather resupply at Muir Ranch so the ferry service at Florence Lake may be a moot point.