Pack Train Still Serves Remote Mountain Areas

January 31, 2016

The following article was reprinted in the February, 2016 newsletter for Angeles National Forest volunteers.

MERCY CALL - L.E. Adams calls rescue crew, frequent task when trouble occurs in the mountain camps

MERCY CALL – L.E. Adams calls rescue crew, frequent task when trouble occurs in the mountain camps

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: March 18, 1953
Pages: A6

ARCADIA, March 17- The Last pack train in the Angeles National Forest, and said to be one of the few general service pack trains left in the Old West, is run by Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Adams and their son Bill out of Chantry Flats.

With Mabel, a stout Jenny as lead animal, four horses and five burros, the station packs in as far away as Chilao, 19 miles back. The train is responsible for four camps, Sturdevant, Fern, Ivy and Bon Accord, and serves a total of 143 cabins, some of which are occupied year around.

Varied Freight

In addition to groceries, which the occupants of the cabins have brought up to Chantry Flats by car from 2500 feet down below. Bill Adams, who handles the pack train, carries in butane, gasoline and coal-oil for lights, lumber for new buildings — anything anybody wants or needs. One of his trickiest jobs was packing in a television set for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gick up Big Santa Anita Canyon.

The history of packing in the Sierra Madre range dates back to the 1880’s. The old trail started at the east boundary of Sierra Madre. In 1937 the paved highway from Santa Anita Ave., which is the northern extension of Double Drive in Arcadia, was completed to Chantry. Most of the 143 cabins, many with five and six rooms, were built prior to that time, and lumber for them had to be carried in by pack train.

Aid Injured

The sorrows and the joys of the mountain range come to the pack station door. Because hikers have parked their cars there, they return to the station for aid when there has been an accident. Seventeen persons have been “pulled out” of the mountains by rescuers in the last 18 months.

The Forest Rangers, the Adams, Sheriff’s Posse No. 5 and the Sierra Madre Rescue Squad work together as a team. The Sheriff’s Air Patrol also helps. The members of the rescue squad are trained mountain climbers, adept in moving a body twisted and torn by compound fractures after a fall down a steep cliff, in rescue litters.

The Adams have a list of 20 numbers to call for help and the rescue groups have a fan-out system by which they take up the call as soon as one of the members is reached.

Fire Protection

Eight telephones, all leading into the ranger station or connecting with the Adams telephone, give fire protection. Eight portable pump stations are at the telephone locations. Big Santa Anita has been lucky, however, and has not had a fire of any consequence since 1896.

The State Fish and Game Commission keeps the canyon streams stocked with trout and the only way to get them into the streams is by pack. Transported 100 miles or more from the State hatchery at Victorville by tank truck, the young trout are transferred to small tanks which are loaded onto Mabel and her burro friends by Bill Adams and his helper, Riley Herrick. Then they packed two and one-half miles upstream where they are turned loose by the rangers into the clear cool spring waters that ripple down toward Big Santa Anita Dam.

Four Camps

Ivy camp is run by the Rev. Elmer Nelson, pastor of the Bethel Community Church of Duarte, Fern Lodge is owned by the YMCA, Sturdevant Camp is owned by the Methodist Church and Bon Acord is owned by the Girl Scouts of San Gabriel and is not open to the public. Year-round residents lease their land from the government and own their cabins. A cabin may be bought for as little as $500 on up to fancier ones with fireplaces at $1200.

Commentary from the Forest Service:

There have been a lot of changes in the last 63 years

  • $1.00 in 1953 had the same buying power as $8.79 in 2016
  • Ivy Camp (Bethel Community Church) – 1954 the Camp reverted back to LeRoy Haynes who had owned it before. But, with the loss of the dining hall due to the 1953 fire, it eventually shut down, but I cannot find a specific date. It became Hoegee’s Campground at some after it shut down.
  • Fern Lodge (YMCA) Sold to the los Angeles Presbytery in 1956, but shut down in 1960 and the improvements removed.
  • Bon Accord (girl Scouts) Sold to Brad Bryce in 2004 or 2005 and converted to the residential recreation permit rather than an org camp. Sold to the Woods about 4 years ago.
  • Sturdevant Camp Sold to “The Friends of the San Gabriels” who have been working diligently since April 2015 to provide some improvements (new out door chairs, fuel reduction, inside painting) and marketing.
  • Within a few months of this newspaper article, the 1953 fire will have destroyed numerous cabins, portions of Fern Lodge and the main dining hall at Ivy Camp. By 1954, there were only 94 cabins left in the Big Santa Anita Canyon.
  • During the early 1960’s the Chantry Flats check dams were constructed. The U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Flood Control District teamed up to engineer and construct these Lincoln Log type structures in many of the front country canyons of the Angeles National Forest. These structures were designed to keep the stream bed’s ever-moving alluvium “in check” with hopes of reducing the accumulation of sand and rock in the Big Santa Anita’s reservoir further down canyon. The paved fire road that you begin your descent down into Robert’s Camp is the beginning of the construction road that was bull dozed all the way past Sturtevant Camp.
  • The State Fish and Game Commission no longer stocks trout in many of the canyon streams due to the impact on species and habitats affected by hatchery-raised rainbow trout.

However the crank phone system

The crank phone being used by L.E. Adams in the newspaper article is still in operation. This phone is part of the largest remaining crank system in the United States (some say the world). There are over 4 miles of wire connecting the pack station, Sturtevant Camp, 9 emergency call boxes and cabins in between.

Chantry Road Closed 09/29/2015 to 10/02/2015

September 29, 2015

The road to Chantry Flat will be closed for road repairs.  The County hopes to open the road by Friday October 2, 2015 but it may remain closed through the end of Friday.  The public can hike on the road but should be careful as the road is not closed to residents or cabin owners.

Sturtevant Camp is Under New Ownership & Management

April 21, 2015

Ranger Cabin & SignFriends of the San Gabriels, in partnership with Adams’ Pack Station, is pleased to announce that they have completed the purchase of historic Sturtevant Camp. The USFS permit is pending two administrative items but we have the approval and that is really the most important part. So, what are our next steps? Here is a summary:

We successfully raised $75,000 which allowed for the purchase and requirement of two years of operating capital. Unfortunately, that does not include any contingency for repairs, maintenance, improvements, or an on-going drought. All of you were very generous with your donations and I do not want ask you for more. We need to determine how to reach out to potential donors outside of this circle and I am looking to you to provide suggestions. The one suggestion that we have had repeatedly is crowd-funding. I have researched just about every funding site and have determined that at this point in our fundraising we are beyond the feasibility of using those services. In essence what these sites do is provide a means to reach out to family, friends, and beyond regarding a project. That is what we did through our website and email. We only incurred a little over 3% fees whereas the best fee structure I found was a little over 7%. What I believe we need are larger benefactors and/or corporate sponsors. Does anyone have any idea how to go about this? This is completely outside of my knowledge base.

For those of you who donated and were identified, I will start working on getting out your receipts as we will no longer need to worry about returning the funds due to the sale not going through.

We have determined that it would be best to move the Camp out from under the Friends of the San Gabriels as there has been some concern expressed that there may be a conflict between Adams’ Pack Station (Burcon Outfitters, Inc.) and FSG. Also, we (Sue and I) foresee a time when we will need to step back from the project and the Camp needs to continue under good stewardship. Therefore, we are in the process of incorporating a new non-profit called the Sturtevant Conservancy. Initially, the Board of Directors will consist of Sue and I. However, in a short period we will want to expand the BoD. Unfortunately, due to some recent events we are going to be very careful who will be placed in this decision making role.

Work, work, work… Yep, we still have a lot of work to do at the Camp. Some urgent projects include: re-pipe the sewage drainage from the manager’s cabin. The toilet is current not functioning. The potable tank and the poly tank (the two water tanks we have) need to be plumbed together to allow for alternating which tank is drawn from. This is primarily to resolve an issue with chlorinating that continues to be re-filled by the ground water. It will also allow up to access both tanks to get us through June. Who out there is a plumber or is very familiar with plumbing who can help with this? Next, the micro-hydro pond needs to be dug out. We are having very little water flow already as the ground water is starting to sink under the surface. The raking needs to be completed.

Hosts: The current boot squad has done a fantastic job putting together check lists and laminated instructions for hosts. We will be expanding upon this and providing training sessions. We are targeting late June for this as the Camp will most likely have insufficient water to have guests. As a host you will be asked to learn things like running the generator, how to provide an orientation to guests, how the propane system and water system works, and we will be planning to have a wilderness first aid class so that everyone is certified in CPR and first aid. Let me know if you are interested.

-Deb Burgess
Adams’ Pack Station
dburgess@adamspackstation.com

Take a guided tour…

2015 Anniversary Party

April 5, 2015

Join Us on Sunday, April 19th

Bill_Adams_SmallAdams’ Pack Station will hold its annual anniversary party, now celebrating 79 years in operation. As always, this also kicks off our live music series. This year we will have live music EVERY Sunday until the middle of October. You should not miss our line up this year. For the 19th, we will enjoy great music by:

(For other concerts, check out the music schedule)

Monica & EricHave you been waiting all year for the famous Eric’s pulled pork? Wait no longer. Eric and his lovely wife Monica will be here with the treat everyone wants. Don’t miss out. And as usual, we will have fresh-grilled burgers & fries, hot dogs and hot links, veggie options, and ice cold beer.

Write Up on KCET Blog

January 28, 2015

Friends of the San Gabriels Mount Fundraising Efforts to Save Historic Sturtevant Camp

“All I need is 200 people to donate $100 each,” announced a petite woman in a bright green t-shirt, perched atop a wooden bench, smoke rising from the fire pit in front of her.

campsturtevantOur host for the day was Deb Burgess, owner of the general store and lunch spot Adam’s Pack Station, at the Chantry Flats trailhead at the Big Santa Anita Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest. Seventy of us arrived by 7:30 on a Sunday morning for what was advertised as a “Hike Into History” (co-hosted by ModernHiker.com founder Casey Schreiner), but the real purpose of our early morning gathering became abundantly clear: Burgess is raising money to buy Sturtevant Camp, a historic resort founded by Wilbur Sturtevant in 1893. It’s one of the only preserved reminders of the Golden Age of Hiking when women in long Victorian dresses once climbed the San Gabriel Mountains.

“We are here to save this beautiful camp,” proclaimed Burgess.

Read more »

Hike Into History: Sturtevant Camp

January 12, 2015

Sturtevant's Swiss Lodge

UPDATE: READ THIS POST

Join Casey Schreiner of Modern Hiker and Deb Burgess of Adams’ Pack Station for a hike to historic Sturtevant Camp.

Just as they did a century ago, we will travel along a well-marked trail into the Camp, where we’ll be able to peek into all of the buildings on site, including the oldest existing U.S. Forest Service structure still in its original location, a beautiful hand built cabin (circa 1903) that served as the first ranger station, and the original 1897 Swiss Dining Pavilion, this currently serves as Sturtevant Lodge. Just as they did in 1936, Adams’ Pack Station will bring along the pack train with lunch and water to the Camp.

Meet here at Adams’ Pack Station Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 7:30 am. The cost is FREE, light lunches and water will be provided (If you’re a big eater or thirsty hiker, snacks and water are available at the Pack Station store, or you can bring your own.) Parking is available in the lots at Chantry Flat and along the road with an Adventure Pass, or in the private parking lot at Adams’ Pack Station
for $10.

This is a fundraiser to save Sturtevant Camp. Friends of the San Gabriels will raise money by selling T-shirts, and of course donations are more than welcome. Check out the list of donor incentives below. You can download the fundraiser prospectus here (pdf).

Moderate hike – approx. 8 miles round trip, hike at your own risk.

For More Information Contact Deb Burgess at 626-447-7356

Remember that your donations are tax-deductible.

  • For donations of $5,000 or more, we will name a guest cabin after you or an honoree of your choice. Plus, you have the privilege of reserving the Retreat Cottage for yourself and up to 5 friends twice a year for two years.
  • For donations of $1,000, you can adopt a cabin (you get a plaque in the cabin) and you can reserve the Retreat Cottage for yourself and up to 5 friends during 2015.
  • For donations of $500, you can be one of many to adopt the Ranger cabin or another building and reserve the Retreat Cottage.
  • For donations of $100, you can enter to win a full weekend in the Retreat Cottage for yourself and up to five friends. Packing included. We will draw the winner in late February.
  • For donations of $25 or more, we will treat you to lunch at the pack station on a music Sunday. Yum!
  • Finally, all donors above $100 will be listed on a donation wall and receive a free t-shirt. (unless you want to remain anonymous).

Lila Adams Celebration of Life

April 14, 2014

DSC04231On April 12th, 2014 the family and friends of Lila Adams, co-proprietor of Adams’ Pack Station and caretaker of Big Santa Anita Canyon for over thirty years, gathered here at the pack station to celebrate her life (1919 – 2013).

Folks came from far and wide to remember together the woman who treated everyone with kindness and love. The celebration featured live music, good food, stories and reunions.

Lila’s family members planted a native Coast Live Oak in her honor, that she may live on at the place that she loved for decades to come.

Below are a few photos of shared memorabilia and videos of folks sharing stories about Lila…

Photos

Videos

Lila Adams Memorial Party

March 26, 2014

Lila AdamsWe will be celebrating the life of Lila Adams on Saturday, April 12th

Here some bullet points for those planning to attend:

  • Please RSVP so that we have an approximate count. Email Deb at dburgess@adamspackstation.com.
  • The pack station will be open at 7:00 am, so come as early as you like. The party starts at noon with music by the Wild Mountain Mystics. The tree-planting ceremony (an oak tree because she was truly a mighty oak) and dedicated music will begin at 1:00 pm. Music continues until 5 pm with Chico’s Blues and The Subs.
  • Limited edition memorial t-shirts will be available for $10. The back will have an oak tree with the saying “She Was a Mighty Oak” and “Lila Adams 1919 – 2013”. It would be helpful if you can tell us how many shirts you would like. See the t-shirt design here (pdf)
  • Parking will be at a premium.  We believe that we can accommodate about 70 cars at the heliport on the heliport road, and a few at the pack station.  Please arrive early as we will need to shuttle up and down from the heliport.  We do not believe we can shuttle that many people in an hour so arrival by 11 would be helpful.  Parking will be $10.
  • We will be offering BBQ and Dutch-oven cooking (pulled pork and mac-n-cheese).
  • Snack foods, water, and cake will be provided at no cost.

Closed for Rain February 28 – March 1

February 25, 2014

Rain Feb 29 - Mar 1The pack station will be closed for heavy rain expected Friday, February 28th and Saturday, March 1st.

Sunday Mar 2nd is forecast to be sunny, so we may be open and will update you here.

NOTE: crossing streams in the rain or the following days can be very dangerous. The water may be deceptively swift. There are a few hikes from Chantry Flat that do not involve stream crossings, including the San Olene Fire Road to Lookout Point and Upper Winter Creek Trail to Mount Wilson. There may be some snow accumulation at Wilson, so be prepared with proper gear and footwear.

Remember if you come up and we are closed, you can park in our dirt lot for $5 and you do not need a pass. The gate to Chantry Flat may be closed by the City of Sierra Madre if there are rock slides on the road. You can check the status of the gate by calling Sierra Madre Police at 626-355-1414.

World’s Fourth Largest Pancake

February 9, 2014

Mojoe Outfitters and Adams’ Pack Station host an epic and successful attempt to produce the World’s Fourth Largest Pancake using a Mojoe Griddle on a Weber BBQ. The crowds cheer, the children squeal with delight and the band plays on!

Go to www.mojoeoutfitters.com to see the amazing Mojoe Griddle that made this feat possible.