As a sort of New Years Resolution, I’ve decided to elliptical my way from Hobbiton to Mordor, following Frodo and Sam’s path from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Each day, I do a few miles and then read about the same miles the hobbits covered, before writing about the whole thing in the blog. Here’s today’s entry:
The walk from the ferry to Frodo’s new “home” at Crickhollow is a short one, taking our hobbits past Brandy Hall, Buck Hill and Buckleberry. Finally, they come to the new home, which Merry and Fatty have made into something lovely – very similar to Bilbo’s back at Bag End.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 5 (p99-108, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
Though the walk was uneventful, the real story is at Crickhollow. I’m even tempted to say that this chapter, “A Conspiracy Unmasked,” contains everything you need to know about the new generation of hobbits and even Lord of the Rings in general.
Here we learn that Sam, Pippin, Merry and Fatty Bolger have known that Frodo was planning on leaving the Shire since April (it’s now the end of September). Not only that, but they knew of the Ring! In his teens, Merry once saw Bilbo use it to avoid the dreaded Sackville-Bagginses. He even caught a glimpse of the Red Book! But the hobbit who uncovered the most information about Frodo and his coming journey was, of course, Sam.
At first, Frodo believes his friends are trying to force him to stay. But no, they surprise him still further by telling him that they’ve planned all along to come with him – no matter where he’s going. They even made up their own version of the Dwarves’ “Far over the Misty Mountains” song.
Naturally, Frodo tries to talk them out of it, but he gives in far too quickly. They use a bit of logic and namedrop Gandalf and Gildor, but even if they hadn’t, two things were working against Frodo going at it alone. First, he was terrified. Second, he didn’t want to say good-bye to his friends. All this adds up to a road trip. Five ponies were made ready by Merry, and in the morning, they’ll be off – sans Fatty, who has no desire to leave the Shire – his job was to stay behind and make it look like Frodo still lived at Crickhollow. He was also to tell Gandalf where the four hobbits were headed.
There’s not a lot of commentary that can be done here. It’s just a wonderful chapter. Short, but filled with so much hobbity goodness. At the end, Frodo has two dreams. The first foresees his stay in Lothlorien, while the second is about a white tower which he wants to climb to view the sea, which he was (in the dream) filled with longing to see. The white tower is probably one of the Elf-towers at the edge of the Shire. They were built either by Gil-galad for Elendil or by Elendil himself. Supposedly one of the seven Palantiri (seeing stones) was in one of them.
Originally, Frodo’s dream was much longer and took place in Bree. It was from a passage that explained Gandalf’s absence. In that version, Gandalf, pursued by Black Riders, climbed into a tower to escape them. The idea of this tower later evolved into Orthanc. Finally, however, Gandalf’s absence goes, as of yet, unexplained or even unseen, and Frodo is simply dreaming about the sea.
The date is now September 25th. On July 10th, Gandalf was arrested by Saruman and placed in Orthanc. He escaped on September 18th. In this chapter, Frodo contemplates waiting at Crickhollow for Gandalf to arrive, but on this date, Gandalf is heading toward Bree. He crossed the Isen, leaving Rohan, the day before, upon Shadowfax. You can dig around for yourselves in the Timeline of Arda.
“You speak of danger, but you do not understand. This is no treasure-hunt, no there-and-back journey. I am flying from deadly peril into deadly peril.” – Frodo
“We are horribly afraid – but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.” – Merry
Thoughts on the Exercising
I don’t know why, but it keeps getting more difficult. It’s more my legs than anything else. I’m not winded or tired, but my thighs feel like they’re going to give out. I don’t know what to do. So I only did four miles today. I don’t think I would have been able to do more, really. On most elliptical machines, there’s a setting for tension. Ours has this too, but it’s fairly ghetto and has only a “+” and “-” symbol with an arrow to guide us. But it’s somewhat adjustable, so I’ll try messing with that tomorrow. Today was sort of a frustrating day, anyway, so maybe it’s just that. Bah.
- Miles today: 4
- Miles thus far: 73
- 62 miles to Bree
- 167 miles to Weathertop
- 385 miles to Rivendell
- 1,706 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: Frodo’s new “home” at Crickhollow. (Map)