The minute I got out of the car at the trailhead parking lot, I noticed that things seemed pretty quiet. Usually there is some pretty decent bird activity in the shrub just off the parking lot; today there was nothing. A bit of pishing didn't even bring up a Song Sparrow.
When I started walking, a Rough-Legged Hawk flew overhead. Alright! finally a sign of life. I thought that things would start picking up as I got deeper in.
When I got about 1/2 a mile in, the only bird I had seen was the one Rough-Legged Hawk. I decided that nothing was happening, so I took a spur trail off to the left. I'd only been on this trail once before, but the last time I was on it, I saw a flock of 10 Golden-Crowned Kinglets. Obviously if you see a species of bird in a particular location you'll see that same species the next time you visit that spot, right?
Things picked up a bit when I took the side trail. I had a few Juniper Titmouse (Titmice?) along the side of the trail, a couple mute Solitaire were posing atop Gambel Oak, and Western Scrub-Jays were shrieking back and forth.
I kept walking and walking. I just thought that if I kept walking, the birding would get better. It stayed about the same. After an hour or so, I started to realize that I had walked rather far. The vegetation was starting to change, I was getting into some pretty deep shadows, and it was starting to get colder. I looked ahead of myself, and there was a somewhat significant peak about a mile in the distance.
I had never been this far on the trail, and I wanted to know where it ended up. By this time, the bird life had dropped into non-existence, so I figured I'd go for a hike.
I was disappointed when the trail curved just left of the large, rocky peak, but I still pressed on. I really wanted to know where the trail ended up. Finally, I made it to the top of another rocky, sparsely populated by Juniper, wind-whipped peak. The view was beautiful; from the top you could see most of the Wasatch Range on the other side of the valley (and unfortunately you could see the thick belt of smog that is covering the valley), and you could see all the other canyons that run parallel and perpendicular to Yellow Fork.
Since it was a rather nice day up there, I sat down on a rock, enjoyed some water and pulled out a novel that I had been reading. I enjoyed the sun, the book, and the view for over an hour. I had completely forgotten about birding. I was glad to be alive, and I was glad to be up there. I could've spent the night had I brought some dinner.
On the way back to the car I didn't see any birds, or mammals (except for one human runner). I got down just before dark and it was starting to get cold.
On the hike down, I really thought about all the times that I've gone out with birding in mind, and enjoyed something completely different. Sometimes my best experiences "birding" are when I forget birding altogether, and fully immerse myself into some other activity.
Life is good.