Friday, January 30, 2015

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 53 miles down and 1,746 miles to go

Frodo and friends at Buckleberry Ferry.

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” earlier this week by logging 11 more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged three miles on Saturday, three miles on Wednesday and five more today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 53 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,746 more miles to go before I reach Mordor.

In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m still only on the third day of his trip. I left off last week where the elves first appeared in the story and the Black Rider pursing Frodo and his friends left. Frodo, Sam and Pippin then continued on with the elves. The woods here grew more dense and the lane went lower, running in a fold of hills, with hazel on the slopes alongside. Around Mile 44, Pippin quickly becomes sleepy.

At Mile 45, Frodo’s group turns right off the path on “a green ride” through a thicket. At Mile 46, the group camped at a place called Woody End, a green floor in the wood, roofed by boughs of trees. To the east, a steep shoulder falls, and the group can overlook the river valley. It’s around 11 p.m. on the second day, which is Sept. 24, on the Middle Earth calendar, and you can see the lights of the village of Woodhall below.

Day 3 (Sept. 25) begins with Frodo’s group sleeping in, and they don’t leave Woody End until around 11 a.m. Frodo decides to cut southeast to Buckleberry Ferry. They scramble down the hill and into the thick trees below. Around that time, the sky begins to cloud up.

At Mile 47, a deep-banked stream below the hill cuts across the path. When Frodo and his friends look back, they see the Black Rider at the top of the hill where they’d camped. To escape, they force their way through the bushes alongside the stream.

At Mile 48, Pippin realizes the stream is the Stock-brook, and the banks are low enough at this point for them to cross. They find the land on the south bank to be wet and reedy. Two miles later, around Mile 50, they reach a belt of trees, mostly oaks with a few elms and ash. Also around that time, drops of rain begin to fall.

Another two miles later, around Mile 52, Pippin realizes the group has turned too far south because they’re still in the trees. Around Mile 54, they’re still in the trees and stop for lunch around 2 p.m., but so far in my virtual journey, I’m still about a mile away from lunch on Day 3.

For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,799 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.

Those who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,799 miles in a year.

If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, and Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.

In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out another five miles tomorrow and five more on Sunday, but I’ll include all that in my update next week.

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