Rain and Relandscaping
“Be careful of what you wish for.” True that! Water in the Canyon and at Camp has been in long-term short supply. But recent winter storms have deluged our wishes for rain, relandscaping the streambed (again), and creating new projects throughout the Camp. Most importantly, the rain is forcing not only more shoveling, but new strategies for capturing and delivering water into the Camp’s system. Stay tuned for news through the winter season and check the Camp’s and Wilbur’s Facebook pages for work-weekend updates.
Deb’s Long Run
The winter of 2011 was grey with uncertainty; after nearly 70 years of owning the Camp, the regional United Methodist Church moved to shutter and sell the historic buildings and operations. Volunteers struggled to keep the Camp open, and after four years, the best option became real: Deb Burgess, a cabin owner and trail runner who had already stepped up to successfully build up the Pack Station, organized the Friends of the San Gabriels to fundraise and purchase the Camp. After lengthy – emphasize lengthy! – negotiations with the Forest Service and denomination, the keys were transferred in 2015.
Along with her mother Sue Burgess, Deb moved quickly to put the Camp on its own feet operationally and legally, filing to create the Sturtevant Conservancy. As President of the tiny board and ‘chief operating officer / packer / repair technician / etc.’, she almost single-handedly worked to bring the Camp into a new era of outreach and hospitality. Using her business savvy and a wide range of skills, from plumbing to crafts to advertising to decorating, all fueled by an endless dynamism that left others sucking wind to keep up, she upgraded and stabilized the Camp to serve its original purpose; welcoming people to a boot-based experience of the wilderness.
In time, running both the Pack Station and Camp, along with life’s many changes, began to wear heavy even on this mountain trail runner. As the Conservancy’s volunteer support base grew, Deb sold the Pack Station and moved up north to the Sierra foothills. After the Bobcat Fire destroyed her cabin in 2020, she stepped down as President/CEO of the Conservancy to focus on her own rebuilding efforts while continuing as an officer on the Board.
Earlier this year, Deb tried to resign to make room for new members, but that was immediately tabled! Many operational threads remained to be unwound and rewoven with new hands. With most of that work done, the Board has now acted to formally name Deb Burgess as “Founding President and Member Emeritus of the Board of the Sturtevant Conservancy”. This keeps her in an ex-officio/non-voting relationship to the Board, with the freedom to give the benefit of her experience and opinion any time she darn well pleases.
The Camp – and the public it serves – are indebted to Deb for taking on the huge task of transitioning the Camp at a darkly crucial time and putting it on a good path to the future. The Board, on behalf of the Canyon community and the hiking public, offers their gratitude, best wishes, and yes – happy trails. Thanks Deb!
Sturde’s Holiday Ask
Sturtevant Camp runs on two things: Desire and Dollars. Desire is what draws both hiker-guests and hiker-volunteers up the Canyon for the unique experience of ‘camping indoors’ at Sturtevant. Without desire, no boot hits the trail, no hot chocolate awaits in the Lodge, and no doors or pipes or anything gets fixed at Camp.
If desire is the Top Line of the Camp’s purpose, there is also a Bottom Line— the Dollars. The Camp doesn’t run on the free firewood laying around: there’s propane for stoves and fridges, filters and pipes for water and waste systems, and shingles on roofs keeping beds with pillows dry inside and so much more—SO much! All of it demands constant maintenance, repairs, and ideally, improvement.
This has been true since Wilbur “Sturde” Sturtevant built the Camp, but it is urgent this season. The Canyon has been closed for two years now with no revenue, and it’s unknown when the USFS will allow us to re-open for business. In the meantime, volunteers have been hustling to make critical repairs to the Camp following the Bobcat fire, but these are repairs, not the regular maintenance the Camp needs.
Fundraising for the big repairs has covered most of those costs, and now we need to make up for the absence of guest income to tackle the basic maintenance needed to re-open the Camp. We still have extensive bear damage to repair, deferred maintenance on the Lodge floor and ceiling, etc. The irony is that the closure gives our volunteers a window of opportunity to get that done – IF we have the dollars for materials and supplies, including lumber, paint, and more.
So, this is Sturde’s two-point holiday “ask”: first, your DESIRE to see the Camp sustained, improved, and readied for re-opening, and secondly DOLLARS to help make that happen. You can do the dollars at sturtevantcamp.com/support
And if some of your desire includes hiking to Camp and joining in the work got to sturtevantcamp.com/volunteer.
Thanks in advance for your generosity!
Road Open, Gate Closed
The first week of December, Chantry residents got word that the road construction crew would finish their work the following Tuesday. Residents and cabin owners hustled to deliver a tasty taco lunch and offer thanks to the remaining workers on their last day. Everyone enjoyed that gratifying sense of a (big) job finally done.
Which does not mean the road is open: the Canyon remains closed under the USFS order. But it will mean that Camp volunteers can come all the way up to Chantry Flats and start hiking (and hauling supplies) from there. For some residents, it will mean a return to full-time living at home, and for Maggie Moran and the Pack Station, a very big step toward re-opening for business. Stay tuned for breaking news!
Safety Stocking Stuffers for You & Yours
Check out this list from REI sporting goods…
Looking Ahead to 2023
Our Annual Report, fresh faces on the Conservancy Board and at the USFS, and – you know – the latest on winter conditions in the Canyon and at Camp. Until then, Happy Holidays!
The Sturtevant Conservancy – Gary, Sarah, Paul, and Teah.
4 replies on “Storm Report, Thanks to Deb, and Sturde’s Ask”
Before the fire, my family and I stayed with you at least once a year. We always wondered this: certain items like the old generator or the kitchen stove would be hard to bring up the trail.
Was it all carried up in pieces, or was some stuff dropped off at the helipad?
Most of the large items were dropped into the middle of camp by helicopter. But the piano was trucked in on the Rincon-Red Box Road then carried down from Newcomb Saddle. Also, there was a window of time during construction of the check dams when items could be driven all the way into camp.
What are the owners of the cabins allowed to do during road closures? Are they allowed to stay up there and maintain their property?
You asked “What are the owners of the cabins allowed to do during road closures? Are they allowed to stay up there and maintain their property?” – and the answer is = kinda/sorta/when they can!
Cabin owners have special access permits to enter the Canyon to do just that – maintain their cabins, do repairs and fire clearance, etc. But they aren’t supposed to “use” them as if the Canyon was open and the conditions normal, and that’s the real constraint: access to the main Canyon has been blocked on and off by the recent storms, and the shifting conditions remain hazardous.
Because of all this, the USFS has suspended the collection of annual permit fees, but in exchange, that means cabin owners are not supposed to use the cabins other than to keep them safe.
Hopefully by spring we’ll see the circumstances shifting, and soon everyone can get back to enjoying the Canyon.
Thanks for asking,