Some people might say heavy medium format cameras, wooden shoes and babies don't belong on a four day hike. Those people just lack a bit of imagination.
After several winter hikes, I thought this Easter weekend would be a walk in the park for me. Spring weather, easy terrain, villages (and pubs!) galore… A couple of friends even decided to bring their 7 month old daughter along. To make it a bit more challenging, I decided to take my most impractical camera’s with me: the Widelux 1500 swing lens panorama camera (1,9 kg), the Yashica D TLR (1 kg), and the Balda Poka box camera (a feathery 400 gr). All of them medium format camera’s.
Pretty soon though, it turned out that central Germany can be quite wintery in April, and this hike wasn’t all that easy after all. The first night we made a camp fire so big and hot, we didn’t notice it had started snowing until putting the fire out for the night. Next morning, everything had turned slightly white.
As we walked on, further up into the Harz nature reserve, our surroundings became more wintery. That night our camp was made quite near a village with a youth hostel. It proved too much of a siren to some of our party, and so we lost six people to the warmth… We were sad to see them go, although it was the sensible thing to do for them. The baby was having a hard time keeping warm in her carrier, and the others didn’t have proper winter gear either.
Next day we moved on, enjoying the snow. My camera’s proved to be every bit as impractical as I had thought, but that was no reason not to have fun with them. The widelux drew the most attention. I had never used it before, and it proved to be a hard camera to master. But it’s swinging lens and sexy mechanical sounds cheered everyone up.
The Yashica doesn’t really handle cold and dampness very well, the shutter button kept getting stuck. The shutter itself apparently worked perfectly, since my pictures came out fairly well.
The box camera worked perfectly as ever. Not much can go wrong in a camera this simple. Unfortunately, thing can go wrong developing your pictures… The two films I shot got stuck together in the developing tank, resulting in some rather messy pictures. As the saying goes, sh*t happens.
And thus another hike ended differently than I expected. No spring weather and easy living, but a true northern hike. That’s what makes hiking so appealing to me, you can plan all you want, but something unexpected will always happen.
Photos and words by Maaike van Stratum. Located in flat and crowded Holland, Stratski loves to go hiking in empty mountainous regions, especially when it’s cold.