Another discussion has been bubbling up on the burgeoning Hiking Blogosphere today – sparked off by an old post from Crow about why she prefers to go sans camera on her outings. In list form, I am honestly quite glad that:

1. There is now a Hiking Blogosphere.
2. Just like the rest of the Blogosphere, we can get sparked off by month-old posts.
3. We get riled up about cameras.

Crow’s got some good reasons for going lens-less, like having less to carry, having less to worry about when you get home, and being able to enjoy more of the “moments” of life.

Tom picked up on a re-post on Besthike, offering an even-handed list of pros and cons and coming down in the middle – slightly leaning toward a non-photographic experience, if I read right.

Personally I’m always going to be bringing a camera along with me. My point-and-shoot slings tightly across my shoulder and under my CamelBak, and is light enough that the only time I notice it’s there is when I’m reaching to get it out.

I don’t worry about spending too much time actively looking for good pictures when I’m out on the trail, but if a scene presents itself to me, I’m not going to argue with it. I do try to frame up shots in interesting ways (to varying degrees of effectiveness), but you don’t necessarily have to in order to get some nice landscape shots.

And with digital photos, online albums, and one-click-Photoshops like Picasa, you barely need to know your way around a computer to get everything nice and organized, either. It’s much less intensive and space-hungry as trying to organize physical photographs. At least, I imagine it is, as I don’t have much experience doing that kind of thing back in The Olden Days.

As for the missed-moments argument, let’s face it – hiking is not the most action-packed of activities. Having a camera along for those unpredictable times when you’ll see a beautiful vista, a gnarled old tree hugging a cliffside, or frozen riverbed is worth the extra ounces. If you’re really about to have a capital M Moment, just leave your camera aside.

I remember an early morning hike in Topanga Canyon when I was lucky enough to come upon three large deer grazing in a meadow not ten feet away from me. We looked at each other for a long, silent moment before they bounded off into the woods. Right now, I can still remember the vibrations in the ground from their hooves stomping away … but when my memory starts going, I’ll be glad I have other pictures from that day to jog it back into working order.

But when it comes down to it, do what’s going to give you the most enjoyment. If you love pretending you’re Ansel Adams, lug your SLR along. If you want to romp in a riverbed and not worry about getting your gear wet, leave your camera at home. We all go outside for different reasons, so it doesn’t make much sense to worry about what everyone else is doing.

It does make good blog fodder, though.

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