Adventure: Common Sense and How to Not Buy New Camera Gear

Hiking and Common Sense

It’s been almost a year since last hiking in the Minami Alps so this weekend the plan was to hike up to the Sampukutoge camping area (三伏峠) from dusk, spend the night and then continue on another 3 hours to Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳 3052m) on Sunday morning. Things didn’t go to plan – common sense prevailed.

With the backpack packed and batteries charged, chocolate and sugary snacks purchased, I headed to the Torikura trail entrance (鳥倉登山口) late on Saturday afternoon to start the 2 to 3 hour climb to the campsite. After dillydallying around all week checking the weather and being unable to make a decision it was finally game on. Perhaps you remember the two similar hikes in the same area when I was treated to spectacular views of Mt Fuji at sunrise?

What I didn’t expect on arrival was for the carpark to be almost empty. There was just one other car and that hiker (sporting some awful looking blue – blue! – sunglasses) had just finished for the day and was preparing to leave. I asked how the trail was and how many tents were at the campsite – none apparently.

Perfect. I’d have this small section of the Alps to myself for the whole night. I jumped on my cranky twenty-year old mountain bike, chosen for times like this because it’d be a blessing to see it get stolen, and cycled the 5kms to the gate and registration post. It was a relief to see the overhead rumblings of thunder and lightening flashes slowly heading west.

At the registration post I noticed the impossible to miss sign clearly stating 「入山を自粛してください! 」Please refrain from climbing the mountain! I was expecting this so took note but carried on and filled out the registration form. I don’t know why as I’ve never done it before but I pulled out the form of the last hiker expecting it to be Mr. Blue Sunglasses but the date written was 1st September. Hikers were obviously keeping quiet about their plans.

Registration gate

That’s when I hesitated. Did I really want to hike alone at night after rainfall up to more than 2700m knowing full well that the authorities were warning against it and, as was also clearly stated, that they’d be in no rush to come and rescue me if something went wrong? Most of the mountain lodges that act as emergency contacts are closed for 2020 because of Covid 19 so I doubt they were bluffing. I sat down, looked out across at the mountain range absorbing the ridiculous size of it all and decided it wasn’t worth it.

Nope. I’m not going.

If the worst did happen and I did have to be rescued then I’d be putting a lot of people at risk for my own selfish rewards. 

The Minami Alps are daunting and not to be taken lightly. I’m still fairly new at this game so don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. Not very adventurous really, is it? A bit embarrassing truth be told. But instinct told me not to go so I didn’t. Mt Shiomi will still be there next year. 


How to Not Buy New Camera Gear

I think Panasonic are finally in full frame business with the recently announced S5. I adore my G9 and GX8 and all the dinky hiking friendly cycling friendly lenses that go with the system. But this new full frame S5 may just tempt me back into the world of the big guns. Alarm bells are ringing and I’m fully aware that this is early signs of G.A.S. but the S5 is smaller than the G9 and weighs almost the same. And over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking of slimming down my kit to the bare essentials. The 20 – 60mm kit lens that comes bundled with the S5 could slim things down to one lens. But I know me.

One lens? Who am I kidding? Myself, that’s who.

I know how this works though and know what to do. I’ll lust after it for a few weeks, reading reviews, watching YouTube and adding up the trade in value of my current G Series set up. Wasting time basically.

And. Then. I’ll. Do. Nothing. 

I’ll forget the camera exists. Probably until the S5M2 comes out and the whole process will start again. I’ve done this with every digital Leica M, the Leica Q and Q2, all the iPads, a few iMacs and countless MacBook Pros. I don’t buy them because common sense kicks in (again) and I realise camera gear is just for taking damn photos. Unless they are photos of loved ones or photos that change the world then it just doesn’t matter. Besides, is buying new gear you don’t really need a wise decision in 2020?

But still, the S5 looks good.

Cycled since I was a kid, moved to Japan in 2001, bought my first 'serious' camera in 2005. Spent the later half of the 1990s travelling in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Japan, and the Philippines and wish I'd photographed a lot more back then.

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