Finding Middle-earth in the Pacific Northwest

While our proto-fellowship wordlessly trudges east toward the Last Bridge, let’s take a look at some photos of my very own Middle-earth.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p200, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
As most have probably noticed, each day I post a photo attempting to depict some land feature of whichever chunk of Middle-earth we’re talking about.

For example, I used this for Weathertop:

Camera: Holga 120N Film: FujiChrome Provia 100 (x-pro as C-41)

Camera: Holga 120N
Film: FujiChrome Provia 100 (x-pro as C-41)

And this to depict the Nazgul:

Camera: Polaroid Big Swinger 3000 || Film: Fuji FP3000B

Camera: Polaroid Big Swinger 3000 || Film: Fuji FP3000B

Sometimes I have to be a bit abstract, like when I used this for the Prancing Pony:

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100  Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

And so I’ve been thinking that while I have a ton of photos on my Flickr account (here!), I’m probably going to have to travel a bit this spring and summer to gather up some other locales.

I’ll probably try to find something art deco-ish for Rivendell (maybe my shot of Diablo Dam?), and some Cascades shots for the path along the Misty Mountains (like this amazing trail called the Kendell Katwalknot my photo)?

What I love most about the Pacific Northwest is the incredibly wide range of ecoregions, much like Tolkien’s Middle-earth. And while they might not match up exactly, there’s definitely enough diversity here that I can make a good argument for almost anything.

And when that’s not possible, like, for example, the Mines of Moria, there’s my shot of an abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel (okay, not exactly local, but that’s okay too).

We’re not exactly dedicating this summer’s travels to my Middle-earth photography project, but we’ll be hitting places like Craters of the Moon, Idaho (not my photo), that might come in handy.

And though this won’t be the culmination of our wanderings, we plan on hitting Mt. Washington in Oregon. Any guesses why? (Again, not my photo. I’ve never actually been there.)

Maybe everybody’s got a little Middle-earth where they live. But I’m pretty convinced I’ve got it all.

A Few Notes:

  • All of the photos that I post on my blog were taken by me using vintage cameras and (usually) 120 film. In almost every case, the photos have also been developed by me. It’s just one of the things I like to do in my spare time, I guess.
  • This summer, I’m going to focus upon using my 1914 Kodak camera. It’s 100 years old, so I sort of want to show off what it’s got.
  • It’s a shame I’m not doing the Hobbit. This would make a fine Carrock (again, not my photo).
  • Feel free to take a breeze through my Flickr account and let me know which photos you’d think could represent parts of Middle-earth.

me

About the Photo
It’s a photo of my taking a photo! Come on! It was taken about a minute before I proposed to Sarah. I was setting up a shot to capture the moment. This was overlooking Spiral Jetty in Utah.


  • Day 60
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 291
  • 169 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,488 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Still south of the East Road, southeast of Weathertop. (map)

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12 thoughts on “Finding Middle-earth in the Pacific Northwest

  1. It’s a shame I didn’t find your blog before Frodo & friends made it to Buckland. I could have offered to go take a pic of this sign. Everytime I drive by it, I always imagine I’m leaving the Shire or coming back to it.

    • That’s great! I really miss New England. I used to spend a bunch of time up there, especially New Hampshire, but Mass as well. The only thing at all I could find LotR related around these parts (aside from the Mirkwood Cafe) is some guy who did a chainsaw carving in Tacoma. I guess I have to go to Tacoma now. Ugh.

      Also, I’m a few years too late to visit Hobbiton, USA in the Redwoods. Such a shame. I drove by it in 2004, but didn’t really think much of it.

      • That chainsaw carving looks like a must-have. To Tacoma you must go. If you’re into baseball, there’s a AAA minor league team there.

        Oh, man. I wish I’d known of Hobbiton USA when I was living just up the road! 😮 If it was there then. (late ’80s-early ’90s) And now I’m wondering why anyone would put Hobbiton in the middle of a redwood forest…

        • Ughhh… Do you have any idea how much I don’t want to go to Tacoma?! I’m really not into baseball, but they’ve got a pretty good roller derby team (Dockyard Derby Dames), and I wonder if I couldn’t somehow combine both.

          There aren’t many Tolkieny things in the US (apart from his desk, which is somehow in Illinois), so it’s a real shame that Hobbiton closed down. Why in the middle of a redwood forest? Well, from what I understand, the original owner loved the Hobbit and didn’t have anywhere else to put it. She hoped it would draw tourists (it didn’t) and when she died, her kids just didn’t get it and closed it. It’s still there, apparently, but it’s blocked off with “no trespassing” signs.

          Here are John Rateliff’s photos of it from 2010.

  2. Awesome photos to bad I didn’t find your blog earlier, there’s nothing like a good hike being in nature and seeing all the cool views. The world is much quieter at the top lol

    • Thanks so much! Earlier wasn’t nearly as fun. It’s getting better as we go (I keep telling myself). Doing the whole exercising in the house thing is nice, but I can’t wait until the winter goes away and I can once more get out into nature. Soon!

  3. Fascinating as always! I greatly enjoy reading your blogs and looking at your images. In a blog or two back you asked for blog ideas… I thought it might be interesting to learn more about the typography and maps of middle-earth, especially Tolkien’s process in creating his world. If I remember correctly, his letters mention editing maps and miles at least once, and that Christopher was a big help with the maps… I wonder how Tolkien decided on what he did (and why some things were left more vague). I liked your reference maps comparing the marshes and weathertop. 🙂

    Also, I’m looking forward to seeing more of gollum, though I suppose there will be plenty of time for that in posts to come. 🙂

    • Thank you so much!

      You know, I’ve never thought about discussing the maps. I’ve come across a few letters and even some writings (in History of Middle-earth) by Christopher Tolkien about how the maps were made. Christopher had a huge hand in them. I absolutely love maps. If you want to keep me occupied for hours, just give me an old map from the 1920s and another from today of the same location. I’m like a kitten with a ball of string.

      That said, I’ve got two reservations. First, while Tolkien’s maps are ridiculously fascinating, the writing I’ve seen about them hasn’t been. Now, I wasn’t specifically looking for something to write about, so I’m sure I missed something and I’ll go back in and check. Second, I’m sort of hesitant to delve into the maps because of the litigiousness of the Tolkien estate when it comes to maps. That’s incredibly secondary, of course, but it’s still there.

      I’m really excited to meet Gollum, too. I want to look into an idea that a couple of my friends and I have been batting around. I really want to dissect the notion that the Ring could never have been destroyed unless all three: Sam, Frodo and Gollum, worked together in specific amounts of harmony and discord. I also want to do it without sounding like an ass. Both are huge tasks. 🙂

      • I can understand your hesitations. I was just thinking since you/we are discovering how the writing of LoTR went through a number of fascinating stages, perhaps the maps did as well. Anyways… just an idea to take or leave as you like. 🙂

        I completely agree with your friends regarding Sam, Frodo and Gollum. Call it fate or whatever, but I also believe that all three had to go through what they did and be where they were for the Ring to be destroyed… didn’t Gandalf say something to the same effect in the Mines of Moria? (or at least in the movies… I really need to pick the books up again… alas they are in moving boxes… but your blog has encouraged me to read along with you as soon as I get them again) 🙂

        • Since I wrote that, I’ve been looking for more info on the maps for LotR. I think I’ll try to do something. It’s definitely a good idea. I’m just not sure I’ve got the chops for it.

          Gandalf did say that in the books, yes. It’s a long way away, but I want to keep it in mind for when I finally get there. Everything was so perfectly settled. If Sam were any more or less mean to Gollum, for example, it wouldn’t have worked out.

          Grab the books and read a long (though I’ll be on p200 for another week or more).

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