Sturtevant Campout
Derek Mathewson

When you spend a lot of time traveling on the road and often hike solo, you tend to get used to your own company pretty quick. But this weekend spent with the Adventure Aide crew and other likeminded outdoor enthusiasts was just what I needed after coming back from a long road trip. Since becoming an Adventure Aide Ambassador back in June, I still hadn’t had the opportunity to meet any of the members or join in on any of their scheduled events. So with our schedules finally coordinating, there was no way I missing this event!

Our group campout took place in the Big Santa Anita Canyons, in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. This is a popular location for hiking, mountain biking and camping in the LA area. When in season (from about Jan-May) there are two waterfalls that are the main attraction for most visitors. One being Sturtevant Falls which is an amazing 60-ft waterfall, and the other being Hermit Falls- a perfect swimming hole for cliff jumping  on a hot sunny day. Considering it was the end of August and hardly any previous rain showers, we didn’t make our way to the falls.

Before starting the hike down to Sturtevant Camp, everyone met up at Adam’s Pack Station. Here everyone did there roundabouts introducing one another, stretched and shared a morning toast with the beers that Sufferfest Brewing Co. had provided. I mean, nothing beats a good stretch and a cold beer for breakfast.

One of the partnered guests attending this event was “Sufferfest Brewing Co”. They’re based out of San Francisco and take pride in making beer for fueling active, healthy, and socially-conscious people with premium quality gluten-free beer. All I can say is that I’ll definitely be buying some in the near future! The second partner for the event was “Live More Happy Co”. LMH is a clothing company that inspires people with it’s fun designs to live a happier life full of purpose, gratitude, excitement, love and most of all...fun! What’s really great about this company is that the funds that are raised is donated to charities across the world. That’s pretty amazing and powerful, so it makes me feel good to be affiliated with brands like these.

Once everyone was situated, we gathered our gear and hit the trail. The trailhead began on the downhill side of the road a half mile from the entrance to the Chantry Flats parking lot. After hiking a little over 4 miles on the Gabrielino Trail, we arrived at Sturtevant Camp. The hike was fairly moderate, offering some elevation, shade and scenic views.

We met the camp host, Deb, for a quick rundown on the camp and everyone got settled in and started exploring! Since the camp is located 4+ miles from the trailhead, it made this unique spot all the more pristine. The camp had multiple outdoor activities and games like horseshoes, volleyball, zip lining, archery, hammocks and rope swings to keep everyone entertained. The camp was originally built in 1892 and is currently run by a non-profit, the good folks at the Sturtevant Conservancy. They are currently working to make Sturtevant more accessible to campers, as well as hold themed events, like ours.

As the afternoon slowly turned into the evening, people made themselves comfortable, enjoying the outdoors and getting to know fellow campers. It’s not too often that I attend large group events like this, but one of the things I was really looking forward to was the opportunity of making new friends. I feel that if you’re not putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you’re not growing as a person. We all learn from one another and this was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. With a group of 45 people though, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

As the evening started to wind down and the stars began making an appearance, we all gathered around the fire with our belly’s full from dinner. The Adventure Aide crew did a fantastic job of putting the meal together and having options for everyone. But as quick as the hike went, and as good as the dinner was, there was no exclamation mark that could’ve been put on how well the night ended. Sitting down around the campfire with 44 others, listening to the sound of the guitar rippling and not seeing a single person on their phone was a moment I really took in. In today’s day and age, we use our phones, more often than not, as an entertainment device rather than simply a communication device. It controls us and we don’t even know it. With all the diversion that was taking place at that very moment in time was something I really appreciated! After a long day of hiking, games, food, jokes and laughter, everyone slowly made their way to bed.

The next day, me and nine others decided to get a quick hike in to the top of Mt. Zion. The hike was 2.4 miles round trip, but relatively nice and easy nonetheless. The toughest part of the hike though was trying to maneuver around a momma bear and her two cubs that were in the middle of the trail. That was some fun!! It took us a little while to figure out our game plan, but we found a clear method for avoiding them and made it back to camp safe and sound. I’d seen wildlife and deers the day before, but didn’t think for a second I’d see a bear. That for me was a highlight of the trip. It couldn’t have ended anymore dramatic!

After getting back to the camp we grabbed our bags and said thank you to our gracious camp host, Deb. The timing, location and vibes from the people that put together this event made it all so much worth it!

Like I always say, the secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of everyday! I look forward to the next get together and seeing a lot of the same or new faces.

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