Packing Prices & Guidelines

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or find the price list below…

Category Item Description Price/Unit
Minimum Charge Please see Packing Guidelines for explanation and tips on eliminating your minimum charge.
Main Canyon cabins (#23 – 87) & Sturtevant Falls events CALL
First Water cabins (#3 – 21)
Lower Winter Creek cabins (#115 – 117)
Hogee’s Campground
Upper Winter Creek cabins (#126 – 139)
Spruce Grove Campground & cabins (#97, 99 – 104) CALL
Surcharges Surcharge for difficult/awkward loads
( see Packing Guidelines )
$20.00 per hour/
per extra packer
Guests at
Prices are for EACH WAY
see General Packing and read Packing Guidelines
Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags $1.00 per lb.
Camping Public Prices are for EACH WAY
read Packing Guidelines
Tents, sleeping bags, stoves & other gear $1.00 per lb.
Wilderness outfitting Varies By Event
Volunteers Trail work, fire crews etc. CALL
General Packing Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags,
for example …
$1.00 per lb.
Groceries & beverages $1.00 per lb.
Dog food bags $1.00 per lb.
Kerosene, gasoline, charcoal bags $1.00 per lb.
Bedding, clothing, other linens $1.00 per lb.
Cookware, toiletries $1.00 per lb.
Backpacks & duffel bags $1.00 per lb.
Propane Tanks Please see Packing Guidelines
for tips on packing propane tanks.
.50¢ per lb.
5 gallon tank full $15.00 each
9 gallon tank full $35.00 each
9 gallon tank filled to 7 gallons for donkeys $30.00 each
Empty tank out $15.00 each
Propane fill Market Rate
Filling service charge $4.50 per tank
Building Materials Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags $1.00 per lb.
Hand Tools $1.00 per lb.
Nails, screws and other fasteners $1.00 per lb.
Paint and painting supplies $1.00 per lb.
Concrete/Cement 60 lb. bags or smaller $1.00 per lb.
60 lb. bags $60.00 each
90 lb. bags – ( see Packing Guidelines ) $1.00 per lb.
Concrete piers $1.00 per lb.
Roofing Sealant $1.00 per lb.
Underlayment $1.00 per lb.
Roll roofing – ( see Packing Guidelines ) $1.00 per lb.
Tab roofing – ( see Packing Guidelines ) $1.50 per lb.
Drip edges – ( see Packing Guidelines ) $1.00 per lb.
Steel roofing Incl. valleys, ridge caps, gable ends and flat stock $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
Foam kits and screws $1.00 per lb.
Call us for more information & references.
( see Packing Guidelines ) $20.00 per hour/
extra packer
Lumber Please see Packing Guidelines
for tips on packing lumber
Boards and sticks 8 ft. long or less $1.00 per lb.
Boards and sticks longer than 8 ft. $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
Surcharge for difficult/awkward loads
( see Packing Guidelines )
$20.00 per hour/
per extra packer
Other Windows – price varies by size and type CALL
Skylights $1.00 per lb.
Doors – price varies by size and type CALL
Pit toilet commodes $1.00 per lb.
Tools & Equipment Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags $1.00 per lb.
Long-handled tools $1.00 per lb.
Chainsaws, line trimmers, leaf blowers… $1.00 per lb.
Small generators & ladders 8 ft. or less $1.00 per lb.
Large generators & ladders over 8 ft. $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
Surcharge for difficult/awkward loads
( see Packing Guidelines )
$20.00 per hour/
per extra packer
Furnishings Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags $1.00 per lb.
Folding chairs & cots, end tables, lamps, small rugs… $1.00 per lb.
Small tables, chairs, bed frames… $1.00 per lb.
Large tables, headboards, mattresses, futons… $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
Surcharge for difficult/awkward loads
( see Packing Guidelines )
$20.00 per hour/
per extra packer
Appliances Anything that fits easily into the saddle bags $1.00 per lb.
Small wood-burning stoves (150 lbs. or less) $1.00 per lb.
Large wood-burning stoves $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
Stove pipes, bricks, grates etc. $1.00 per lb.
Gas barbeques $1.00 per lb.
Refrigerators, gas stoves/ovens $1.00 per lb.
plus surcharge
RV-sized refrigerators $1.00 per lb.
Surcharge for difficult/awkward loads
( see Packing Guidelines )
$20.00 per hour/
per extra packer
Garbage Please see Packing Guidelines $1.00 per lb.
Deposited in our dumpster $1.50 per lb.
You haul it away $1.00 per lb.
Water There are no water systems,
so black flex tubing would not be…
$1.00 per lb.
Steel, copper & PVC pipe would not be… $1.00 per lb.
You certainly wouldn’t need to know that the
price for shower pans, stalls & doors would be…
$1.00 per lb.
And, naturally, there is no need to call for a
price on delivering a water tank.

Packing Guidelines

Table of Contents

(Price List top)

Packing 101, Introduction to Packing

The type of packing we do is called “dunnage” – that is, freight only, no passengers. We do not offer rides because of the rugged terrain, blind corners and heavy multi-use traffic. Only experienced riders ought to tackle the San Gabriel front country and even then it’s quite dangerous.

The process and techniques we use are the same as they’ve ever been. Packing services are charged by the pound, typically with a minimum price depending on the distance from the pack station (see above). Customers arrange for a delivery time and drop their materials in our loading dock. Everything is weighed, sorted for each animal, then split 50/50 to get a balanced load; an unbalanced load will cause the saddle to slide to the heavy side, inviting disaster. Occasionally we must employ a rock for ballast.

The average mule can carry 300lbs. A mammoth donkey will take up to 200lbs. and the standard donkey limit is 125lbs. Animals currently available for packing: 1 mule and 6 standard donkeys.

In the old days, loads of groceries and sundries were often wrapped in canvas or wool blankets then tied to the animal. Professional packers would use boxes and crates. Today we still organize loads in boxes, but we play it safe and place the boxes, one or two per side, in saddle bags, or “panniers”.  If you are inclined to box your goods, which would be helpful,  please use cardboard apple and potato boxes available from the supermarket. They are sturdy, they have a removable top, they are the perfect size for our saddle bags, and they are free!  Avoid banana boxes. Please do not tape your boxes closed as we may need to rearrange them to get even loads. We have two models of saddle bag. One type fits one apple/potato box each, the other has half again the volume and can fit two boxes each, provided the weight limit is not exceeded. We have the capacity to haul up to 16 of these boxes, but call us first if you need such a large delivery.

We will try to help you in any way we can. All of the following guidelines boil down to one simple thing: consideration. You wouldn’t walk into the Post Office with an armload of loose items and tell them “this is where I want you to bring them, now deal with it”. Show us, your friends, the same respect you would give stranger government employees.

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Advanced Notice

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Minimum Charge

There are many reasons for requiring a minimum charge to deliver to various areas in The Canyon. These apply to cabin owners, guests at Sturtevant’s Camp, and the recreating public alike. The most important reason, of course, is that time is money. Cabin owners please read the “For the Cabin Owners” page for more on our relationship with you.

pWe understand that our primary purpose is in packing, but operating the Pack Station takes a lot more time than weighing and delivering your loads; and we are not referring to the store operations. Under ideal circumstances, we would only need time for daily mucking, feeding, raking, sweeping etc. around the station and some weekly trail maintenance. As it is now, we have innumerable hours of intensive reparation ahead of us. We would love to conduct a volume business, but until and unless that condition exists, we will require a minimum charge as a means to prioritization.

How can you eliminate the minimum charge? Primarily by consolidation. Ask your neighbors to arrange a delivery at the same time (see neighborhoods above in Price List). If you are unfamiliar with your neighbors or cannot reach them, ask us at the Pack Station for help in organizing your deliveries. Another approach may be to drop your supplies well in advance of your needs. We will deliver them when items for your neighborhood accumulate to equal the minimum charge. Also keep in mind that anything we haul out on the same trip will be applied toward your minimum. If you are going to your cabin or camping on a whim, give us a call, we may be headed your way.

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Difficult Load Surcharge

The surcharge for difficult and awkward loads is applied for each additional packer we must employ. There are several common occasions when this is the case. For example, we have developed a system for using two donkeys to carry extra long lumber. But the process requires a second packer to control the rear donkey. We also need to unload and reload at switchbacks, a process for which two people are necessary in order to do this safely.

There are other times, say in the case of a mattress or 4×8 plywood, when the donkey is carrying all of the weight, but a person is needed in the rear to steady the load. The same goes for tables, futon frames etc.

Current charge for such activities is $20.00 per hour for each additional packer. Yes, this includes the time it takes for the additional packers to return to Chantry. The extra charges were born out of economic necessity, but are equally applied to discourage dangerous loads. The odds of disaster increase with every successful dangerous pack. It is still not worth injuring a packer or losing an animal over a couple of 12 foot 2×4’s, but it’s a risk we take and we think you’ll understand why we have to charge for it.

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For Guests at Sturtevant’s

Thank you for choosing to use our pack train to complete your trip back in time. Sturtevant’s is one of a handful of historic mountain resorts left in the San Gabriels and the only one which still has a connection to a pack station. Having your gear packed in by donkeys is how they did it back in 1893, when Sturtevant’s Camp first opened.

Since the camp is fully equipped, you will only be bringing in your clothing, food, toiletries and possibly a sleeping bag. But you would be surprised to know how much trouble these relatively simple and lightweight items have caused us in the past. We will try to give you some guidance here in how to prepare your deliveries.

The first thing to address is food. Reusable shopping bags are perfectly acceptable, but please do not use the plastic “T-shirt” type bags. If you are inclined to box your food, which would be helpful, please use cardboard apple and potato boxes from the supermarket. They are sturdy, they have a removable top, they are the perfect size for our saddle bags, and they are free! Avoid banana boxes. Please do not tape your boxes closed as we may need to rearrange them to get even loads. We have plenty of refrigerated and deep-freeze storage space for advanced drop-off, and one pair of insulated packing boxes for delivery of cold goods.

Second is clothing, bedding, towels etc. We have had groups drop off these items in garbage bags and pillow cases; sleeping bags not even rolled up! Please do not be this discourteous. We prefer duffel bags and internal-frame packs, or at least use more of the boxes discussed above. Also please take a few minutes to repack properly for the trip out.

As long as we are properly preparing for a smooth delivery, we might as well do it well in advance, especially if you are a large group. Have your group leader ask each member the approximate size and weight of their luggage (most folks have a bathroom scale handy). This will give us a good idea of how many animals and how much time we will need. Ask for a volunteer to round up everything that is to be delivered and drop it in our loading dock a couple of days in advance. We know this sounds like work, but if you wanted the conveniences of a hotel, you wouldn’t be doing this.

That commentary being said, there is a decision you need to make regarding your packing experience. It is less stressful for us to deliver a day ahead of your visit, but you are the customer. Some people like to watch the loading process then hike ahead of the pack train. They enjoy the anticipation in watching for the donkeys to bring their supplies around the bend. We can appreciate that fully. But let us make the argument that you can have a similar experience on the day of your departure. Besides, there is satisfaction in having all your gear waiting for you; all your food in the fridge. Please keep in mind two things: 1) that weighing and sorting your goods for even loads takes time and we may get to camp up to two hours after your drop, and 2) it is more dangerous for us to go toward camp, against the flow of downhill mountain bikers, on the weekends. Friday deliveries are ideal for weekend stays.

Regarding your minimum charge, try to coordinate with camp management. We typically deliver essentials to them on Fridays and/or the day before visitors arrive. If you consolidate your loads, you can eliminate the minimum charge. While the minimum charge applies to each direction, and you will have eaten the food you had brought in, your delivery out usually coincides with camp garbage & spent propane tank removal.

On the day of your return, allow the time and patience for us to finish conducting business. If, for some reason, you find yourselves returning to Chantry Flat ahead of the pack train, or we are still weighing your items when you do return, resist the temptation to start packing your cars before we have thoroughly checked everything. It is also in this rush that people tend to leave behind some of their belongings. I’m sure this last paragraph does not apply to you, for you will surely be refreshed and relaxed after your stay at Sturtevant’s, and in no hurry to get back to the city. In fact, you will probably have time to sit with an ice cream on the Pack Station deck.

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For the Camping Public

We do provide packing services to the campgrounds of Big Santa Anita Canyon for the general public. See our “Canyon Map & Facilities” page for more information on Hogee’s and Spruce Grove Campgrounds, and read “The Role of Outfitters” if you’re interested in our relationship with the Forest Service as it regards the recreating public. We have plans to outfit to The West Fork of the San Gabriel River, but this will take time.

Our services are restricted to “dunnage” only – freight, no passengers. We are currently not an “all inclusive” outfitter. You must supply your own tents, bedding, stoves and cookware… Read the section above for guidelines on how to prepare for your pack.

Prices are for EACH WAY. This includes any of your garbage taken out. Please do not put garbage in the toilets, it ruins them for everyone and we have ways of knowing it was you.

Forest Service campground limit is 14 days. Long term parking can be arranged at the Pack Station. California Fire Permits are free and available at the Forest Supervisor’s Office on Santa Anita Ave.

*NOTE: We at the Pack Station, with the help of a little bird or two, do monitor campground activities for compliance. In addition to the obvious infractions, there is a CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) called Destruction of Resources that can be broadly interpreted. Forest Service Law Enforcement will respond to complaints.

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General Packing

Items in the General Packing category are essentially those that do not fit into any of the following categories. Basically, if it fits inside the saddle bags, it’s .50¢ per lb.

Regarding food, doubled paper shopping bags are perfectly acceptable, but please do not use the plastic “T-shirt” type bags. Use the cardboard boxes discussed above. We have plenty of refrigerated and deep-freeze storage space for advanced drop-off. We have one pair of insulated packing boxes for cold goods.

If you are packing gasoline or other fuels, or any liquid for that matter, make sure that the container is well sealed. Use duct tape around caps and to cover breathing holes. See that bedding, towels and other linens are neatly packed in plastic or butcher paper, if not in duffel bags. Pack anything fragile and breakable as you would for any other delivery service.

To avoid any complications, have a Pack Station representative present for your drop. We would welcome an appointment if you so desire.

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Propane Tanks

Most of you now have 9 gallon propane tanks. The old 15 gallon tanks can be fitted with the new OPD valve required for filling in California, but we discourage their use. They weigh 115 lbs. when full and are very difficult for both mule and packer to handle.

Nine gallon tanks weigh 70 lbs. when full. Our mule can carry four of these, but the donkey weight limit is only 125 lbs. A nine gallon tank filled with 7 gallons of fuel weighs 60 lbs. One on each side is a perfect load for a donkey.

Most cabins have a dual tank set-up. We recommend that you have third tank in rotation. If you refill when two of the tanks are empty, we have a balanced load going both out and back in; and you still have one tank to use at the cabin.

We can take care of the whole process for you. Just let us know when you’ve drained two tanks and we will take them out, have them filled and valve retrofitted if necessary, then have them waiting at the cabin for your next visit. We can also get you new tanks or that all-important third tank.

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The average donkey weight limit is 125 lbs. Naturally, we expect you to buy concrete in 60 lb. bags, not 90 lb. bags. If you insist on 90 lb. bags for economic reasons, you can split them in half into buckets with lids. If you insist on 90 lb. bags for other reasons, our mule can carry them, but only two at a time. If you bring the buckets, we can split the 90 lb. bags for an extra charge.

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Roofing/Steel Roofing

Most rolls of asphalt roofing weigh 75 lbs. The average donkey weight limit is 125 lbs. This means we can only use our mule for roll roofing. We can’t load a single roll on the center of a donkey without compromising the integrity of the material; roll roofing should always stand on end until the moment you lay it on the roof. So, please bring the roofing well in advance of your project so that we have time to get the rolls in. If you have an odd number of rolls, try to bring enough other material for ballast.

Tab roofing comes from the factory heavier than roll roofing, about 80 lbs. per bundle, but it is easier for us to pack. Why? Because we can remove the sheets from the packaging to create loads in weights that work for us. This, of course, means that we must charge $1.50 per lb. for the extra time and tape.

The steel roofing category includes the old-fashioned, corrugated, galvanized material, and the new color-impregnated type. We load the sheets with the same method as for lumber, but because the width of the sheets obscures the animals vision, we can only put the sheets on one side. Try to bring as much other material as you can/need at the same time so that we can balance the load, otherwise we will have to charge you for ballast stones. We must add the Difficult Load Surcharge because of the added risk.

Even if your rafters are in good shape, you will undoubtedly need new trim wood. If your roof never had trim, consider using 1×4’s around the edge. Not only does it give a finished look and protect the vulnerable cross-cut rafter ends, we can use the lumber to stabilize the drip edges and ridge caps, which can easily be bent in the packing.

The “new” powder-coated steel roofing is formed in a computer-controlled extruder. You can have the manufacturer cut the sheets into any lengths you like. This makes it easier for you to install, but it also helps in packing. Shorter runs are safer to pack, and if you have short sections, 4 feet or less, we can pack them in the saddle bags.

Call us for more information on these new roofs. They come in many profiles and colors. You may also want to contact Big SAC Permitees Association as these roofs are a bit controversial. We can supply you with installation references.

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Aaahhh, the touchy subject of lumber. Just what we were looking forward to addressing.

First of all, we charge .50¢ per lb. because of all the extra prep work. We often need to weigh every piece individually to get balanced loads. Do us a favor by trying to pick out lumber pieces of equal weight. You won’t be exact, but don’t buy 5 dry boards and 1 wet one! We then need to tape the bundles together, long or short, and duct tape ain’t cheap.

Next we need to discuss board length. Anything longer than 8 feet presents us with a variety of problems. Your cabin was originally built with this rule of thumb in mind. Runs of more than 8 feet were successfully constructed with just a little extra thought to design. Don’t bring in longer lumber because your plan is just to “wing it”, and you need a little extra “just in case”.

Extra long lumber will also cost you extra. We will need at least one additional packer, depending on the quantity and your time constraints. Because of how the lumber extends past the animal, we cannot safely pass through switch backs. We would need to unload before each switchback, carry the loads to the next safe area, then return for the animals, then reload. You can see how the time adds up, as well as the chances for disaster.

Please call us if you have any questions or if you need our help in planning you deliveries.

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Other Building Materials

Again, the rule applies that if it fits easily into the saddle bags it’s .50¢ per lb. Make sure anything sharp is boxed or wrapped up and anything liquid is duct-taped around the lids.

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Tools & Equipment

Make sure anything sharp is boxed or wrapped up. Put loose hand tools in a box or doubled paper shopping bag. Long-handled tools (rakes, shovels, brooms etc.) are easy to pack. See to it that all fuel has been emptied from power equipment. Generators that weigh more than 150 lbs. will be charged extra. If you need a ladder taller than 8 feet, look for an extension ladder that closes at 8 feet or less.

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Most smaller tables and chairs can be stably loaded using the saddle bags and rope. Collapsible bed frames can simply be tied on like lumber. But larger items will be charged the Difficult Load Surcharge. Dining tables, sofas & futons, mattresses and the like, require at least one additional packer.

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Wood-burning stoves can usually be broken down into their component parts. If the largest piece weighs 150 lbs. or less, and can fit in a saddle bag, we will not add the Difficult Load Surcharge. The same goes for gas BBQ’s. All the accoutrements, like stove pipes, fire bricks and grates will fit into the saddle bags. See propane for BBQ tank packing prices.

Gas stoves and ovens, even the small 30″ type, will require an additional packer. So will large refrigerators. Small RV-sized refrigerators require some extra handling in order to keep them level. Make sure you always keep your gas fridges upright and level!

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Please put a little thought and consideration into how you prepare your garbage for removal. A load of garbage needs to be balanced as well. It also needs to be tidy.

Garbage rule number one: always use a garbage bag. Don’t be so rude as to just toss a pile of junk on your porch and expect us deal with it.

Garbage rule number two, the most important, is to use a good trash bag. We ask you to use the 30 mil contractor’s bags available at any hardware store. When you use a cheap bag, they start to break even before we arrive for pick-up. By the time we lift them onto the animal, haul them, then lift them off of the animal, we need to bag your garbage again in order to fit it on the scale.

While you’re approximating your garbage weight for balanced loads, try to keep the weight under 30 pounds. The bags will be manageable and we can put four bags on one donkey. If your bags break because they are overloaded, or because the bags are cheap for that matter, a special handling charge will be added.

Discarded lumber must be broken into lengths 4 feet or less and use a contractor bag to gather the pieces, or better yet, bind them with twine in bundles of 30 lbs. or less. Also use twine to gather anything with a mind of its own like garden hoses, black tubing, old wire and cable etc.

Just try to be a little classy about putting out your garbage. When you drive through a respectable neighborhood on trash day, all the cans are in neat rows, the garbage is sorted and it all fits into the cans with the lids on. Then drive through a crumby neighborhood. Bags are piled around the one broken can, cardboard boxes not broken down, and much is left behind after the trash truck leaves. Which one do you want to be?

Garbage rule number three: If you have not complied with the above rules, and/or we do not detect a sincere effort, then garbage will not be picked up until it meets our requirements.

Now the subject of disposal. The disposal companies charge an outrageous extra fee to come to Chantry Flat and we arrange for extra pick-ups due to cabin garbage. We will now defer some of this cost by charging .25¢ per lb. extra if you use our dumpster. If you remove your garbage and/or recyclables from the pack station, the price is $1.00 per lb. If you haul out garbage yourself, please DO NOT use our dumpster.

*NOTE: The Forest Service can differentiate cabin owners’ garbage from the public’s garbage. It is a violation of your lease agreement to use their cans. They have historically asked us if we know who to whom the garbage belongs. We always know, whether we packed the material in or not. In order to keep a good relationship with the Forest Service, we are forced to reveal the offender.