PCT: Day 242: leaving Vermilion Valley Resort

Direction: Southbound
Trail location: 1785.4
Cumulative miles hiked 2019/2021: 2443
Cumulative miles hiked 2021: 426
Miles hiked today: 13
Elevation: 10010
High/low temp/humidity: 67/49/40
Spinning on the turntable: 10000 Maniacs: Playing favorite

The bill for my time at VVR was $286. The guy in front of me clocked in around $480. The room was $110, so everything else was my food, laundry, resupply and shower.

I ate breakfast with a couple of other hikers. Both North Bound JMT hikers were discussing elevation issues that members of their groups have had on the trail. A group GUIDE said that he just had TWO of his group med-evac’ed out via a helicopter due to altitude sickness. He said he was lucky that he had a wilderness Doctor as part of the group. The wilderness Dr. directly interfaced with the Garmin folks, who interface with the Emergency Room Dr’s. Since the Dr. on the ground said “they need a immediate evacuation”, a National Park Ranger didn’t need to hike out to act as the intermediate between the hiker, the Garmin staff and the ER staff.

The other hiker said that his wife had been med-evac’ed off of Mt. Whitney due to altitude sickness. (Vomiting and severe diarrhea.) This guy said that they hit the SOS button on the Garmin and then were contact (via txt) by Garmin (I think), who interfaced with the NPS Ranger. The Ranger told them (via Garmin) to start hiking “down” and he’d meet them. The Ranger met them about six hours later, agreed that the guys wife needed medical attention, and a helicopter was brought it to fly her out. She was transported off the mountain to an ambulance, and then taken via ambulance to the Fresno hospital. She was now (two weeks later?) at home in the mid-west, but still not feeling great.

It wasn’t until much later down the trail that I really started to wonder about the guy and his wife. Why wasn’t he at home with his wife? It was clear from the story that they had parted company at the helicopter ride. I wish I could talk to this guy again and try to understand the thought process. I guess my assumption is that if Noelle or I had to hit the SOS button and need to be medically evacuated, the other person would make the trek to the nearest exit point on the trail and then join the other person at the hospital. I’m not sure that I’d continue my hike. What would you do? Guess I’d never given it any thought. It IS hella remote out here. Saying that you’re going to hike out of the back country is easier said than done.

The $10 ride to the “trail head” was kind of BS. It was a ten dollar ride to the nearest trailhead,but it was not the PCT trailhead.  I ended up hiking nine miles back to the PCT via the Bear Creek trail.

In hindsight I would skip VVR if I were passing through again on a long hike, UNLESS the water taxi is operational. Reds Meadow is just two or three days down the trail, perhaps more like a day or two if you’re thru-hiking. Six miles to reach VVR, nine miles to exit VVR, equated to a full day of hiking “lost” to VVR. So, for my dollars, I’d bypass it and push on to either Red’s or Muir Trail Ranch for a mailed resupply.

I called it a day at 13 total miles.

1 Comment

  1. Heidi Halverson

    Your story about evacuated wife was strange, like what was he thinking? But people get so goal oriented and hyper focused. Then I thought of Everest climbers and how they will no matter what push to get to the summit and then are too spent / exhausted/ ill to make the descent. To us they seem to make such stupid decisions because they die or lose fingers to frostbite.
    But I think it takes so much goal orientation and determination to do hard things like to hike the PCT or the JMT that it’s really hard to change plans when things do not go well.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *