Agenda Discovery Week Month

Curated for Me

Amethyst Lake Trail Summer Deep Woods Backpacking Trip To Spot The Gray Jay

Backcountry Birding Utah
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Endorsed by Curators:
Jun 17 6:30AM - 1:00PM

The Backcountry Birding logo contains the image of one of my very favorite birds, the Rocky Mountain Gray Jay. This highly intelligent deep woods corvid, known as Whiskey Jack in Canada, can be found deep in the woods in a few locations in Utah, including from my personal experience around the Amethyst Lake trail in the Uintas.

Gray Jay, part of the Corvidae (Corvid) family, the most intelligent of all birds (crows, ravens, magpies, jays), is known for seeking out hikers in search of food, frequently flying in to land on the hikers hand to feed directly out of it.

Here's several videos of the Gray Jay feeding from people's hands (worth the watch):

My own experience with the Gray Jay was one of the most magical nature experiences of my life. A pair flew about announcing themselves with calls and song for some 20 minutes before flying right in and landing on trees an arms length away. We shared several minutes together and I was simply floored by the obviously enormous intelligence and self-awareness they possessed.
This trip is not for the novice backpacker. The trail is very steep in places, and will, regardless of backpacking experience, be an enormous challenge. We run the risk of seeing no Gray Jay whatsoever, but the risk is certainly worth taking if we are lucky enough to encounter them.
I plan on hosting a pre-meetup review for anyone interested in attending the trip, to look at your gear and offer suggestions on what to take and what to leave.
This will be a two-night trip, but anyone is welcome to join us for a single night if they are unable to attend both.
The scenery along the trail, starting out in the lush gorgeous Christmas Meadows, climbing into the alpine bowl following a high-mountain river that resembles a several mile long rolling waterfall more than a river, is absolutely worth the trip alone.
I don't plan on hiking all the way up to the lake, but at one point we will leave the trail for a favored spot off-trail where we can set up camp near the river and where we are most likely to see the Gray Jay.
Please do your research on this hike before committing to the adventure. It is an extremely challenging hike, particularly with a pack.
This will be one of the highlights of my summer! I hope some of you are up for the challenge. I assure you meeting the Gray Jay will be an extremely memorable experience, if we are lucky enough to encounter them!
We will work out carpooling arrangements in advance.

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