I looked at the clock: 4:00 AM. Damn that train. Oh well, I ended up waking up a half hour early. I ate some breakfast at my friend's house, and we picked up my other buddy right about 5:00, and headed up to Guanella Pass. The begining of the road was still plagued with potholes and required some slalom action in the car. The new parking for Bierstadt was nice and big, and even had restrooms. We laced up our shoes and were on the trail by 6:30. The trail up Bierstadt went smoothly (although a little faster than I would have liked thanks to my cross-country runner of a freind) and we saw a Billy Goat off the side of the trail. The sun was shining right in our eyes as we approached the upper ridge, and out of nowhere, a Big Horn appeared right on the trail:
After he decided to move we went on to summit Bierstadt right around 8:30.
After a short break, and talking to two ladies who were planning on doing the sawtooth, but chickened out, we departed. The descent to the lowest point on the saddle was just a whole bunch of boulder hopping that I thought was great fun. Then I looked back up at Bierstadt and realized why. A couple hundred of feet of descent aint shabby.
Oh yeah, I would be careful when walking under this rock:
Beyond the low point of this saddle, the trail gets harder, and there are two options, up and over, or down and around. We chose the up and over path, and the climbing was never really too hard as long as you took time to find an easy path. We continued along the ridge, hit a cliff, turned left, and approached the ledges:
The ledges were exposed, but were also nice and wide, which made for a pleasent romp to the top of the sawtooth. We took a nice little break here:
We then headed up the seemingly neverending trail to Mt. Evans. After some time we arrived on the summit along with a small crowd of tourists, and ate lunch.
The sky was still perfectly clear as we started our descent around 11:00.
The hike back was very pleasent until we reached the gully back down to the willows. Man this baby was a knee killer, and it just kept going!
After some time we made it to the valley floor and a beautiful water fall:
The relief soon ended as we entered the willows. They are as bad as everyone says. We followed the trial for a little while but it soon ended, and we followed some faint footsteps back to the Bierstadt trail. I was glad that i had my waterproof boots on, as we walked through mud 5 or 6 inches deep at some points. We ended up back at the trailhead just after 1 PM, just as the first clouds were starting to form.
The sawtooth is amazing! I would do it again in a heartbeat, however, I would probably park somewhere along the Evans road and do a loop from there. The hike ended up being right around 10 miles with around 3800 feet of elevation gain. The ledges on the sawtooth are wide, but there is exposure so be careful!
Also, it is a swampy way back, wear waterproof shoes!
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