Packing Prices & Guidelines

Packing Prices

General Packing

Our base rate generally applies to anything that fits into the saddle bags, however there may be exceptions. Groceries, cases of water & beverages, bedding, tools, toilet paper, gasoline cans, dog food etc. all typically slip inside the saddle bags.

Call for an assessment your pack to see if your delivery is feasible without a minimum charge.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for general information on packing.

  • General Packing

    Things that fit into the saddle bags.

    $1.00 per pound

  • Difficult & Awkward Loads

    Surcharge for loads that require an extra packer for loading and unloading, as well as for help during the trip.

    $20.00 per hour

Propane Tanks

Due to the volume business of delivering propane tanks we can offer the service at a discount. We price per item since the weight is consistent. Price does not include the cost of fuel.

Most of the cabins now have 9.4 gallon propane tanks. We fill them to seven gallons because that is the weight limit of the donkeys.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for more information on propane.

  • 5 Gallon Tank, full

    This is the standard size used for barbecues.

    $15.00 each

  • 5 Gallon Tank, empty

    $7.50 each

  • 9 Gallon Tank, filled to 7 gallons

    This is the standard size used for cabin facilities.

    $35.00 each

  • 9 Gallon Tank, empty

    $15.00 each

Dimensional Lumber

We only deliver dimensional lumber. We do not deliver sheet material such as plywood or OSB.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for more information and restrictions on packing lumber.

  • 2x4 Boards

    For general repair and construction, up to eight foot lengths.

    $1.50 per pound

  • 4x4 Posts

    For decks, foundation repair, fencing etc., up to eight foot lengths.

    $1.50 per pound

  • "One By" Material

    Tongue & groove, shiplap, roof sheathing, dog-ear fencing, trim molding etc., up to eight foot lengths.

    $1.50 per pound

  • "Two By" Planks

    Deck boards, foundation repair, benches etc., up to eight foot lengths.

    $1.50 per pound

  • Difficult & Awkward Loads

    Surcharge for loads that require an extra packer for loading and unloading, as well as for help during the trip.

    $20.00 per hour

Roofing Materials

We charge extra to deliver roofing materials because of the added time involved with preparing it for delivery.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for more information and restrictions on packing roofing.

  • Roll Roofing

    Standard rolled asphalt roofing.

    $1.50 per pound

  • Tabbed Roofing

    Tabbed shingle type roofing.

    $1.50 per pound

  • Tar Paper

    Rolls of tar paper and other underlayment.

    $1.50 per pound

  • Difficult & Awkward Loads

    Surcharge for loads that require an extra packer for loading and unloading, as well as for help during the trip.

    $20.00 per hour

Concrete Bags & Products

The average donkey weight limit is 130 lbs so we recommend you to buy concrete in 60 lb. bags, not 90 lb. bags. If you have 90 lb. bags then you can break them up into buckets with lids. If you bring the buckets, we can split the 90 lb. bags for an extra charge.

  • 60 Pound Bag

    60lb. bag as it comes from the home improvement store.

    $60.00 each

  • 90 Pound Bag, pre-split

    You have already split the bags into buckets (plus the weight of the buckets).

    $1.00 per pound

  • 90 Pound Bag, we split

    We split the bags into buckets that you provide (plus the weight of the buckets).

    $1.50 per pound

  • Small Bags

    Any bag smaller than 60lbs.

    $1.00 per pound

  • Concrete Piers

    Used for founations, deck posts and more.

    $1.00 per pound

Garbage & Recycling

The price of hauling out garbage varies depending on whether you remove it from the pack station once we have it out of the canyon or if we need to use our dumpsters.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for proper garbage etiquette.

  • Full Service

    We dispose of the garbage for you.

    $1.50 per pound

  • Self Service

    You dispose of the garbage.

    $1.00 per pound

  • Difficult & Awkward Loads

    Surcharge for loads that require an extra packer for loading and unloading, as well as for help during the trip.

    $20.00 per hour

Guests of Sturtevant Camp

The Sturtevant Conservancy takes care of all packing necessary for camp operations. However we would be happy pack in and out any personal supplies for your stay. This includes your groceries, clothing, toiletries, recreation equipment, conference materials etc.

If you have already made a reservation and did not check the box for packing when filling out the form, we will still be happy to pack for you if given enough notice. Contact us to coordinate your packing with the regular Friday pack to camp.

Please see the Packing Guidelines for information on preparing your gear for packing.

  • Camp Guest Packing

    Groceries and gear.

    Call for Details

Packing Guidelines

Introduction to Packing

The process and techniques we use for packing are the same as they’ve ever been. Packing services are charged by the pound, or per item for certain consistent items, like propane tanks. 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. The average mule can carry 300 lbs. A mammoth donkey will take up to 200 lbs. and the standard donkey limit is 130 lbs. Our current animal availability will vary over the years.

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 and place the boxes, one or two per side, in saddle bags, or “panniers”. We also have insulated, hard saddle boxes for cold items.

We pack every Friday to Sturtevant Camp so if your cabin is in the Main Canyon or Spruce Grove areas then we will deliver to you at that time. First Water and Winter Creek deliveries will need to be scheduled on another day.

We will try to help you in any way we can but please be considerate in preparing your items for packing. Feel free to call if your questions are not answered here.

General Packing Guidelines

This section applies to most items that fit inside the saddle bags.

For packing food, doubled paper shopping bags or reusable shopping bags are perfectly acceptable, but avoid using the flimsy, plastic bags. If you are inclined to box your food, which would be helpful, we recommend using 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! Do not use banana boxes. Otherwise, most cardboard boxes are acceptable, provided they are not larger than an old-fashioned camping ice chest. 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. 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. Package anything fragile and breakable as you would for any other delivery service.

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. If you need a ladder taller than 8 feet, look for an extension ladder that closes at 8 feet or less.

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

Propane Tanks

Most of you now have 9.4 gallon propane tanks. The old 15 gallon tanks can be fitted with the new OPD valve required for filling in California, but due to the weight we cannot delivery these. Contact us if you have an old 15 gallon tank that needs to be removed.

The donkey weight limit is 130 lbs. A 9 gallon tank filled with 7 gallons of fuel weighs 60 lbs. One on each side is a perfect load for a donkey so this is what we deliver.

Most cabins have a dual tank set-up. We recommend that you have a 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.

Dimensional Lumber

We only deliver dimensional lumber. We do not deliver sheet material such as plywood, paneling, T1-11 siding or OSB. Adams’ Pack Station, and the other pack stations long gone, have historically only packed boards, limited by the abilities of the animals and the nature of our trails. There is some sheet materials in the canyon but they were either carried in by the cabin owners or driven in during dam construction period.

Dimensional lumber is the stick-like lumber: 2×4, 2×2, 4×4, 1×6, 2×6 etc. Also decorative lumber such as trim molding. For the most part we are restricted by switchbacks in the trails to only delivering 8 ft. long lumber. There are some places in the Main Canyon area to which we can deliver 10 ft. boards, but please call first to ask for an assessment of your case.

We charge extra for lumber because there is quite a bit of prep work involved before loading onto the animals.

Roofing Materials

Most rolls of asphalt roofing weigh 75 lbs. and tab roofing is heavier at about 80 lbs. per bundle. Since the donkeys can only carry 130 lbs. the roofing materials must be split in two. 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 we pack half rolls vertically in the saddle bags.

We charge extra for roofing to cover the added time and the duct tape required.

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.

Garbage Instructions

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 (this has happened more than once).

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.

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 extra if you use our dumpster. 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.

For Guests at Sturtevant Camp

Main Lodge

Thank you for choosing to use our pack train to complete your trip back in time. Sturtevant Camp 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 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 cheap plastic 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.

All deliveries to and from Sturtevant Camp occur on Fridays only. Unless you hike ahead of the pack train, we will have all your gear waiting for you, all your cold food in the fridge.