Once again, we arose at the crack of dawn and gradually assembled in the dining hall. I grabbed a cup of freshly brewed coffee and enjoyed a quiet stroll around camp before breakfast. After eating, we all assembled for a group picture and goodbyes. While the majority of the group remained around a bit, J and I hit the trail so we could get back to LA for afternoon commitments.
I neglected to comment in the previous posts on the bandanna display. Apparently, the bandanna is the only piece of attire that remained constant between the hikers in the Great Hiking Era and those today. Even the famous Sierra Club water cup fell out of common use as giardia became prevalent and one could no longer take a dip out of a mountain stream. So our leaders recreated the tradition of setting up a bandana display at Sturtevant. At a minimum, it was quite colorful, and a reminder of bygone days.
Our route out of camp took us across Mt. Zion (impressive sounding but not much of a peak), and along the sides of the canyon via the Upper Winter Creek Trail. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the weekend: warm and sunny during the day on Friday and Saturday, crisp and cool at night and in the morning. And today it was overcast in anticipation of a coming storm, just the right temperature for our 5-mile route. Along the way, we encountered a number of hikers and mountain bikers. Chris had reminded us that the Station Fire effectively closed down a large portion of the national forest. So the persons using it are concentrated in a much smaller area, and many more people now hike past Sturtevant.
We reached the car about 12:30. As we drove back down to Sierra Madre we became reacquained with the “conveniences” of modern-day life: cell phones started beeping with messages, and our car soon joined many others on the fast-moving Foothill Freeway. Already I was longing for the peacefulness of Sturtevant and its simpler way of life.
Here’s the only sad thing about Sturtevant: its future is continually in doubt. Last summer, the massive Station Fire drew very close to Big Santa Anita Canyon, threatening the camp and other cabins in the canyon. On top of that, kids today are camping less, and the Methodist Church membership is dwindling, so its future as a church camp is also threatened. And it’s not just the camp that’s in jeopardy – the pack station that supplies the residents of the canyon is too.
So if you’re reading this, consider a visit to one or both to help maintain a window into this fading way of life. I hope we’ll have Sturtevant’s Camp for many years but can’t take it for granted for even a moment.