John Muir Trail Day 13: A “Ferry” Tale

The “Ferry” ride across Lake Edison

Daily Neet Beat
We had planned to go to Vermillion Valley Ranch tomorrow for a shower, meals and to stay in their campground for a night. Because of my ankle and the fact that we are ahead of schedule, we decide to go to Vermillion Valley Ranch today instead. That way, I can rest my ankle, we can take showers and plan a side hike when my ankle is better.
We are excited about today being “multi-modal” (my transportation buddies will get this on). To get to the Vermillion Valley Ranch from the JMT, you can walk around the entire lake for 5 miles or you can take a ferry ride across the lake that takes 45 minutes. We decided to go for the ferry ride and got to the dock early enough as the ferry leaves at 9:45 am to cross the lake. I was excited and envision what a ferry boat ride would be on Lake Edison. I was picturing a broad flat boat with plenty of room for hikers, backpacks and fishermen. What I didn’t expect was a 4-person metal fishing boat with a small horse power engine. The guy gunned the nose of the boat up on the dock and said sorry about the water, they all leak and his 3 best boats were “out of commission”. Needless to say, I didn’t know whether to laugh or swim to shore when he stuffed our packs in front and squeezed us in the middle. No life jackets, mind you. The whole way across the lake I kept looking at the distance to shore, thinking about how cold the mountain lake was and questioning my sanity in being in a leaking boat without a life jacket and very cold water. We did not get a 2-way round trip and decided to hike back around the lake once we had showers, meals and a stay in the campground.
We take showers, eat meals and meet interesting characters. Not necessarily in that order. We ended up having dinner with a couple from central California. Did I state this was a very social experience? Well, Carolyn and Michael drive a 1942 pinzgauer 6-wheel military vehicle to get into the mountains. It is orange like a CDOT vehicle. They are a retired couple, definitely from the hippie era. She is very tall and statuesque and wears her grey hair in braids. He has a long reddish white braided pony tail.  They love coming to the mountains and rescuing thru-hikers, and telling stories. Michael tells us that they don’t vacuum their house anymore because of a bad acid trip he had while she was running the vacuum cleaner some time ago.  Their trail names are “Fungus Toe” and “Crotch Rot” and for some reason, when they introduce themselves to other campers at the Mono Creek Hot Springs nearby, they find they end up with the hot springs to themselves. They have us laughing pretty hard.
We pig out on BBQ pork, french fries and beans and I try and send blogs through but nothing goes through. My ankle gets a well needed rest.

Just the Facts
From northern junction of the JMT and Mono Creek Trail to Vermillion Valley Ranch
Miles: 2.5 hiking
Total Miles: 135.3 miles
Take Ferry Across Lake Edison to Ranch

Photos of the Day

The Lake Edison ferry dock

The signs says it all…..


Trail Angels Michael and Carolyn
Carolyn explains features of the six-wheel pinzgauer to me


  1. Wow. “Don’t pay the ferryman ’til he gets you to the other side.” I too envisioned a very cool ferry. Then I went through all the Google Earth images and thought you might have a lake too dry to ferry. Then you show us a photo of a “Juno Pickup Truck.” Wow.

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