Snowmobiler Hayden Savage remembered as passionate adventurer
November 30, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Friends say Hayden Savage had a smile that could fill a room, an infectious personality that made those around him feel good and a passion for the outdoors.
“His enthusiasm to always want to push and to be outside made him special,” friend Mike Rundle said. “He was always pushing to go on adventures, and it was something that you just couldn’t pass up. I’m very similar in a lot of ways. I’m going to seize every opportunity I have to go do something with my friends, and he was all about creating those opportunities.”
Savage, 24, died Saturday after the snowmobile he was driving veered off Routt County Road 16 near Stagecoach Reservoir. The machine and Savage were thrown into a grove of aspen trees just off the road. First responders attempted CPR, but Savage was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He just had such a positive, infectious outlook on life,” friend Derek Beers said. “He was a go-getter, he loved being outside, and anytime you were around him, you couldn’t help but get caught up in his excitement.”
Savage moved to the Steamboat Springs area at age 19. He worked for Routt County Riders’ trail-building program and at Azteca Taqueria.
Jonas Gabriel, who owns Azteca, first met Savage when he walked through the doors of Gabriel's downtown restaurant.
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“We connected right away,” Gabriel said. “Maybe it was because we were both fisherman. He would always come in and show me his pictures — him fishing and the fish he caught. We would talk about where he went, what he was using and the type of fish he caught.”
But fishing was only one of Savage’s many loves.
He was also a talented skier and had a passion for riding his downhill mountain bike.
“He had a very high level of natural talent. It didn’t matter if he was on a bike, in equipment, with a chain saw or on skis. He was just one of those people who just had it,” said Aryeh Copa, who was Savage's boss at Routt County Riders. “He had this natural ability, and his biking skills were phenomenal. He was a really good downhiller, and he was really good in the air.”
But while Savage may have liked to ride fast and ski hard, Copa said he was not reckless when he was on his bike or skis and definitely not when he was building trails. He said Savage was his most trusted employee with a chain saw and cleared many trails in Routt County.
"Hayden was definitely the most respectful, hardworking employee I interacted with whenever I was checking on crews out on the trail," Routt County Riders Executive Director Kelly Northcutt said. "He definitely rode his bike harder than anyone else, too."
Savage's friends said he would often travel to Kremmling to ride on the Bureau of Land Management trails in that area, and it was not uncommon for him to bring a shovel and work on parts of those trails.
“Everybody that he has worked with here and at Routt County Riders loved him. He was just a great guy, very genuine and funny," Gabriel said. “Everybody (at Azteca) has a real heavy heart right now, and they just want to know what they can do to help. That’s the biggest thing.”
The restaurant owner said he is planning a celebration of life for Savage next week at Azteca and is working with the family to find the right day and time. At press time, those details were not yet available.