Sony RX100-MII : 28mm : shutter 1/640 : aperture f/8: ISO 160: Exposure Bias Value: -1
Thanksgiving Day the weather was perfect for a hike, so we headed over to the front country of the San Gabriel Mountains for a day trip up Mount Lukens.
This would be my first real outing with the Sony RX100-MII, and for the purpose I got it for: hiking. All our previous hikes up this mountain, I had hauled my Nikon D600 with me. It wasn’t particularly grueling, but on one of the more vertical routes, it did get in the way while some scrambling over washed out trail and through overgrown brush.
As much as I love it,the lack of my D600 suspended on my chest in my Think Tank 20 holster was very freeing. The Sony RX100-MII was clipped to my backpack belt, in a Lowepro compact camera case, with a carabiner and I didn’t feel any extra weight.
After enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner of butternut squash ravioli on the summit, we headed back down, hurrying to beat the quickly approaching darkness. As we descended, I saw the outline of this manzanita bush, recovering from the Station Fire, years ago. It’s dark limbs were back-lit by a stunning light display as the sun began to set.
Continuing onward from this point I stuffed the Sony in my front pants pocket for faster access. Unbeknownst to me, as we raced down a set of steep switchbacks, it tumbled out of my pocket, When we arrived at the bottom of the canyon, I found my pocket empty and a sense of dread that comes with losing something valuable.
With the light almost gone, I raced back up the switchbacks, fully expecting to see the little Sony camera sitting in the middle of the trail at any moment. My hope turned to despair as I returned to the last spot I had taken a photo and still not found the camera.
There were no other hikers on this trail, so I knew no one had picked it up. The camera had been in my front left pocket so I reasoned it had to have fallen on that side of the trail if I hadn’t seen it on the way up. I began scouring the left edges of the trail on my way back down the switchbacks, peering into the brush along side the trail and over the steep edges for any sign of the black camera. With many remnants of charred manzanita, there were many false alarms. Some of the drop offs were so steep, I figured I’d never see the camera again if it had slide one of them.
Turn after turn I descended, with no trace of the camera. The sun had set and I was desperately scanning the edges of all the brush with what little light there was glowing in the sky. My next step was to break out my headlamp and hope to get a reflection.
As I cornered a switchback, I looked to my left over a steep bank and something caught my eye. At the base of a manzanita, there was a small corner of black, with what looked like a sliver of white on it. Could it be? I estimated the object was at least 8 feet down a very steep edge. I was convinced it had to be the camera because the black was just a little different shade than all the charred wood I had seen.
Now I weighed the risks of recovery. Nothing was worth killing myself trying to climb down a cliff and I didn’t want to end a great day with a call to search and rescue. I called my husband up to where I was, and tested the strength of a manzanita near me. If it was rooted enough, I could use it and counter that support with a hiking pole planted below.
The bush held firm as I yanked on it. I could do this, safely. I planted a hiking pole directly below and it sank into 8 inches of debris and then caught hard ground. With one hand on the upper manzanita and one hand pushing down on the hiking pole, I managed to place my left foot down the bank. It slide in the debris until it was covered and then found solid footing. Anchored halfway, I could clearly see the black patch was the camera. Amazing. The way it was positioned, with just a sliver of it showing through the bush, it would have been so easily missed.
Mindful of how far down it was if I slipped, I held onto the upper manzanita tightly and stretched for the camera, fishing the handstrap around the end of my hiking pole. Got it!
Quickly sliding the camera back over the pole, to my hand, my husband reached down to help pull me back up and over the edge, to the safety of the trail. Relief flooded through me. We hustled back down the rest of the trail, finally returning to the parking lot in darkness.
Once home, I examined the Sony: not a scratch on it and it worked perfectly. I did have a glass LCD protector on it, but even that was pristine. The camera had fallen from my pocket, bounced off the trail and slide 8 feet down a rocky slope into brush. To be scratch-less was quite a testament to its durability.
My lesson was that the Sony RX100-MII is not quite a “pocket” camera and I will be returning it to its case while hiking.