At the visitor’s center near the entrance of the Rocky Mountains National Park we had inquired about a good hiking trail, and the lovely lady at the desk advised us to hike up to Lulu City. Lulu City used to be a very active mining town at the end of the 19th century, and there were supposedly a lot of old things left there from back in those days. Old huts, old tools, coal carriages, etc. etc. At least that’s what we understood (but we must’ve misunderstood).
We took the hike up and somewhere half way I spotted a grey bird disappearing into the trees. Strangely, we hadn’t seen many birds during our stay, so we upped the pass and went for the trees where I saw the bird go in. We set our gear down, looked around for the bird, which, we figured, had continued its trip, and took a gulp of water in the mean time. We almost choked in our water when all of a sudden the bird came flying directly at us. No joke, we had to duck otherwise it would’ve been a collision. The bird, a grey jay, settled contently on a branch in the tree behind us. So close we could touch it (we were tempted, but we didn’t).
D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm
So this was shot with a 50mm prime. It was THAT close
Another one of those awesome experiences! The little rascal seemed to be really curious. It didn’t seem scared at all and it let us take pictures for 5 minutes easily, sitting like this, sitting like that, hopping onto another branch and posing some more. I’m not quite sure if these birds are regularly fed by hikers. Maybe that’s why it seemed so tame. Or then… (I’ll go with this:) my Buddy Wayne and I send out such friendly vibes that the animals just feel comfortable around us (Ssssh! Let me have this thought, don’t spoil it!).
Eventually it took off, and so did we. We packed up our gear again, and continued to Lulu City, where we eventually arrived.
D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm
I don’t know if we completely missed the whole thing, but this sign was the only thing left we could find that indicated any activity or any sign of previous life in this location. There was absolutely nothing else here but this sign, trees, a lot of snow, and the baby Colorado River. But hold on…
There were… birds? No kidding!
And… was that the same bird as the one we photographed awhile ago?
We continued to the baby Colorado River where we set down our gear again for a break and to freshen up. Dragging a bag with about 15kgs of camera gear for 1,5 hours hiking through the snow uphill and downhill and more uphill gets you warm and sweaty. As I was about to get down and take some water to splash in my face, the little fellow almost hit me again, and went to sit right in front of me on a log, taking a sip as well.
D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm
(had the big lens on, it was too close to focus properly)
And there, in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, I got a crazy idea. These birds had been flying around so close, had seemed so unafraid…
I stood up, spread my arms wide, and waited.
And not for long.
It appeared that there wasn’t only one bird, but there were three. And all three took turns in landing on my hand, nibbling a bit on my fingers (one of them actually really bit my thumb!! ), and then taking off again. And that went on for about 10 minutes or so. My Buddy Wayne stood there, camera a-ready, and shooting pictures, as much in awe as I was (no food involved here, so yeah, I really think Wayne and I sent out such friendly vibes that the birds just felt really comfortable ). (Sssssh!! Don’t spoil it!! ).
So Wayne was supposed to send me a couple of those pictures he shot of me with the birds, but he hasn’t gotten around to doing that. Will add them later, once he has.
And after that little play we took a few portraits still, and then we head back to “camp”.
Even if “Lulu City” wasn’t really worth the hike, this little get-together with our Jay-friends made it absolutely worth the time.
All D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm