Drew Hyde’s life was filled with friends, adventures and a love of the outdoors
Drew Hyde was a mountain biker, a backcountry skier and an adventurer who loved everything the outdoors has to offer.
“He pushed you to the limits for sure, and that’s what I loved him for,” said Eddie Briones, Hyde’s longtime friend. “He got into your soul.”
He was also a son to Thomas and Susan, a brother to Peter and Matthew, and a friend to many people in the community that he loved. Hyde, 49, died, after being caught in an avalanche near the North Fork of the Fish Creek Drainage on Saturday, March 19.
“Drew lived his life simply and to the fullest. Getting outside with his friends is what he loved to do,” his girlfriend, Julie Grady, said. “He was very social. Drew was a best friend to so many people in this community.”
Hyde also loved to host “Thirsty Thursday” barbecues at his place in the Fairview subdivision, where all of his friends would gather to share time together, drink beer, talk about old times and make plans for new adventures.
“Drew was passionate about everything he did — skiing foremost — river rafting, mountain biking and backpacking were his favorites,” Grady said. “He had a heart of gold, and he always told you exactly what he thought … He was always there when you needed him and always there to lift you up if you were down.”
It’s not surprising Grady first met Hyde on the rolling waters of the Yampa River back in 2013 while learning to kayak.
“Our first experience together was kayaking down the Yampa town stretch in high water in May as beginner kayakers with some friends,” Grady said.
The two were friends for several years before their friendship grew into a relationship. Grady said Hyde was always educating himself about the outdoors, and they took a wilderness first-responder course, avalanche rescue course and swift-water rescue course together.
She is planning to start a backcountry education fund in his honor.
“Drew was the best adventure partner anyone could ask for. We skied tons of backcountry here in Colorado together. His favorite ski area was Alta in Utah,” Grady said. “I was super lucky to spend a week in Canada with him on Rogers Pass and in Revelstoke. We floated rivers, mountain biked all over the place and shared many days backpacking together.”
She said Hyde also loved the Wind River Mountain Range, and she hopes to return to the area this summer to honor him.
Hyde’s passion for skiing, the outdoors and adventure stood out to Kyle Lawton, who saw his friend be very calculated and conservative when he headed into the backcountry.
“Really, for me, it was his passion for skiing and sports and his sarcasm with life,” Lawton said when asked what he liked about Hyde. “I loved how the banter was always going on between us.”
His friends agreed that banter was a big part of Hyde’s personality.
“He pushed buttons when he first met you, and if you didn’t pass that test, you were pretty much gone to the wayside,” Briones said. “But if you did pass his test and pushed his buttons back, then he automatically liked you … and if he liked you he took you under his wing and was there with advice whether you liked it or not. He shared his life with you.”
That might mean sharing a beer at Mountain Tap, Storm Peak or the Barley, or it could mean taking a trip into the backcountry on skis or a mountain bike. Hyde also enjoyed spending time on the river and flyfishing.
“It was always a love-hate relationship with Drew. One moment you just wanted to bear hug him, and then the next moment you wanted to trip him into the freaking river,” said Erik Feeley, a friend and fishing buddy. “It’s hard to explain, but he’s the guy that would take his shirt off and give it to you when you needed it. He was there anytime you needed help, and he was a good soul and just full of adventure.”
Hyde worked for Feeley, laying tile for several years before buying the business seven years ago. Feeley loved fishing with Hyde because, Feeley said, it was the one thing they could do together where he could actually help his friend, rather than vice versa.
“(Hyde) had these big Shrek fingers, so he couldn’t tie a fly,” Feeley said. “I loved being on the river with him. Skiing was his passion, but the river really drew he and I together. It was a happy place for us, and I’m going to miss those days.”
Hyde’s sense of adventure sparked his friendship with Laraine Martin, who met Hyde through mutual friends when she started to get into backcountry skiing.
“He was one of those dudes,” Martin said. “He had the snowmobiles, he had the experience and he had those connected friendships.”
Hyde encouraged her and taught her about the sport.
“That’s where you do a lot of your learning, and where you do a lot of that progression in that sport,” Martin said. “You’re not going to learn it in a book; you’re not going to learn it on the internet. You need people who have those connections and ties already, and he was one of those people.”
Martin has been the director of Routt County Riders for the past three years. She said Hyde was already involved with the organization when she arrived.
“He was active as a volunteer and supporter of Routt County Riders for years,” Martin said. “He told me he thought it was a crucial being someone who was involved in these outdoor systems and trail networks. He gave back to RCR with the sweat off his back and by contributing financially.”
She also said Hyde was involved in the things that mattered to him.
“He just made that a part of his whole ethos — an ethos of not being a passive participant, but being an active one,” Martin said. “He would walk into Mountain Tap to grab a beer and would strike up conversations with me about new trail projects, and he would want to hear all about it. He was just deeply, deeply involved in those things.”
Hyde grew up in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he and his older brother, Peter, and younger brother, Matthew, led an active lifestyle.
“We grew up in the same neighborhood as Drew in a small town called Williamstown with probably like 7,000 people,” said Ryan Lapidus, Hyde’s childhood friend. “We grew up together playing Whiffle ball, street hockey and having crab apple fights.”
Lapidus said Hyde and Hyde’s brothers were a part of his extended family, and he still remembers spending days at the Jiminy Peak, a small ski area near where they all grew up.
Hyde attended the Holderness School and Denison University, where he got a degree in English and played soccer before heading west and eventually landing in Steamboat in 1995.
He left for a couple of years in the late 1990s, living in Denver and Boulder, where he worked for Pearl Izumi and Freeskier magazine.
“He basically left to get a quote-unquote, real job,” Briones said. “We knew he was always going to come back.”
Hyde did come back, and he made good friends and lasting relationships. On Saturday, March 26, all those people and his brothers gathered to celebrate the man they came to love.
“Drew had kind of an outward persona that kind of fit who he was as the East Coast dude with the rough hands, the rough talk, and all that, but, like, down beneath that, Drew was such a softy,” Martin said. “I can’t think of a lot of other folks who are on that level of being willing to share and being so generous with their time and their equipment. When it came down to it, it turns out he really was not so salty after all. I think underneath there was a whole lot more sugar than salt.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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