Zombies on Sawtooth!!!

Mountain: Sawtooth (Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado)

Hikers: Wide Guy (author), Old Guy 1 (uncle), and Old Guy 2 (father-in-law)

Distance Hiked: 14 miles Elevation Gain: 3860 ft

Starting Point: Beaver Lake

Hikers eaten by Zombies: 1


It all started a couple months ago when a hiking buddy of one of the old guys was trail running along the front range, tripped and fell onto some prairie-dog droppings and contracted the plague. Yep, that’s right, the plague. Long story short, this friend tried to make himself feel better by eating a deep-fried Twinkie and BOOM! Zombie outbreak.

The outbreak spread and before long it was really hard to find a vendor who would still make one of those terrific deep-fried pieces of gold. Also, the zombies were everywhere. Fortunately, there was something about the Sawtooth Pale-Ale from Left Hand Brewery that could help those few humans that still remained. Predictably, there was not enough beer to go around and before more could be made the creator of the delicious drink was….you guessed it…..hit by a car. There was a rumor, however, that the secret could be found on top of Sawtooth mountain its self.

So there you have it. The goal was set and the three of us set out from Beaver Lake early Tuesday morning to discover the secret or be eaten, or maybe something in-between.


Old Guy 2 and I left early Tuesday morning as Zombies have a harder time grabbing the car as it goes by in the dark. The drive up to Beaver Lake was uneventful except for a bear sighting about 5 minutes before we got to Ward. The temperature at the trailhead was nice with a cool breeze and we proceeded under light from headlamp. The trail at this point is actually a four-wheel drive road and stays pretty flat. We didn’t see much of the undead until we arrived at the Coney Flats trailhead. It looked like a gorgeous place to camp if it weren’t for all the of diseased skin puppets walking around.   We crossed over two bridges to the Coney Flats trailhead and started down the trail (There is another four-wheel drive road that heads toward the Camp Dick road, but you don’t want to go that way, unless of course you are going to Camp Dick). At this point we sprayed ourselves with the scent of the undead as we were starting to see more of them wandering around and we wanted to give ourselves as much of a chance as possible.  About another half-mile along the trail Old Guy 1 caught up with us, he was out of breath as he had been running from a horde that had seen him back at Coney Flats. We had been trying to decide whether or not to go up the pass or the ridge. We decided to go up the pass as it looked like there might be a snow-field on the east fast of Sawtooth that would get in the way of our ascent; also, there was a nastly looking nest of zombies halfway up the ridge. If you come up here looking to do the ridge, don’t try to guess when to leave the trail, wait until you can see the start of the ridge, it will be directly south of the trail and by waiting until you get to this point you will have less willows to go through, cause we all know zombies love those things. Silly Zombies.

The trail up the pass doesn’t have too many switchback and climbs quickly up to the divide. Right when we popped out of tree-line we encountered a large group of quick-moving zombies and it was a race for life up to the top. Once we crested the divide we were met with very strong winds that knocked us around a bit. The only upside to these winds was that they blew away our zombie attackers (Zombies generally don’t weigh very much as they tend to be missing body parts). With the wind trying to blow us over we made the final push up the grassy slopes to Sawtooth. The wind was cold but that didn’t stop us from looking for the secret to the un-zombiefying beer once we made it to the top. For all of our frantic searching we didn’t find anything. We were about to give up when a ghost appeared and told us that secret ingredient was not on Sawtooth but was hidden at a place called Decalibron; but for our efforts the ghost said that some Sawtooth ale was waiting for us down at the trailhead. Thanks a lot, stupid ghost.

We tried to take a picture of the ghost but apparently he does not show up on film and all we got was a crappy picture of the view from Sawtooth.

We grabbed our gear to begin our hike down when we noticed that zombies were now coming from both sides of the divide and had over-run the pass. Our only hope now was to go down the east face and ridge. We went a few hundred feet down from the summit and found a small ramp that takes you down onto the face. The snowfield was there but we were able to go around it without too much difficulty. The horde on the pass had reached the summit at this point and were trying to come down after us but were too clumsy to handle the face. A few of them got close enough to snap at us with their teeth as they bounced down but at worst we would only get hit with a severed arm or leg. Where the east face meets the east ridge was a bail off point where someone could make their way back over to the pass trail without too much difficulty, but we decided to stay on the ridge. The ridge is class II and is pretty much everything you want out of a ridge. A little exposure, great views and lots of places to hang around and play. But all good things must come to an end. We forgot about the nest of zombies that we had seen from below and they chased Old Guy 1 out onto a ledge where he jumped to his death to avoid being eaten alive (I don’t think the fall quite did the trick cause his screaming followed us all the way down the ridge and was a bit of a downer for what was a really pleasant hike). Fortunately, all the zombies jumped off after him and Old Guy 2 and I were able to make safe passage down to the base of the ridge. We took a small breather in the wildflowers that are still blooming around tree-line, celebrating that it had been Old Guy 1 that had bitten it and not us, then started down the trail. We ran into two other parties on our way back to Coney Flats, but other than that, the trail was devoid of humanity. From the Flats it is still a 3 mile slog back along the four-wheel drive roads to the trailhead (not one of my favorite experiences) but the trees are pretty thick along the road and it was pretty easy to hide from the wayward zombie. We made it back to the car about mid afternoon and found our beers waiting for us, just as the ghost had said. There was one extra one for Old Guy 1 so we pushed it into the lake in tribute. We remember then that he had a family that could use it, but by then it was already like 15 feet from shore and we were pretty tired so we loaded up the car and headed out.

Overall the weather was great and the views were wonderful. We will need some time to re-group and make a plan, but don’t worry. We’ll be heading up to Decalibron soon in our mission to rid the land of this zombie menace. Unless it snows a lot in the next few weeks, in which case I might just stay home and watch TV.



  1. […] 4. Bad Experience:  When I was 10 to 11 my Uncle started taking a few of us on increasingly difficult hikes, to get us ready to start doing 14ers.  We had reached the top of a very easy 13er in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and, true to his form, he took us down a different way.  We started going down a steep scree slope and I was falling behind the others.  I sat down for a moment to collect my thoughts and I experienced vertigo for the first time in my life.  I suddenly felt like I was clinging to a cliff face for dear life and I was convinced that nothing was going to get me to move again.  My uncle was able to eventually get me moving again and we have gone up countless peaks since; but I’ll never forget that feeling.  One of the stories of our hikes together can be found here. […]

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