Requested: outdoor expert views about the way the Fellowship traveled

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Merroe, May 10, 2019.

  1. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2016
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    209
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Luxembourg
    JRRT was no stranger to military hardships, but I wonder if the way the Fellowship traveled can withstand a fact check from other outdoor experts.

    The Fellowship traveled from Rivendell to Lothlórien from 25/12 to 17/1. Even with 1 pony, I was wondering how 9 companions can go on marching on foot without fresh food supplies for 23 days. Apart from carrying food, there was gear like weapons, clothes, camping and cooking stuff to lug along. Is this possible?

    Also, they traveled at night in uninhabited lands and distrusted paths ("Paths were few and winding, and led them often only to the edge of some sheer fall, or down into treacherous swamps"). If the night is pitch-dark, then Aragorn's asserted knowledge ("who knew this land even in the dark") sounds a little empty. With no paths and marching at night, what's the probability that no one of the 9 breaks his legs in the dark ("The country was much rougher and more barren") during 23 night marches? Not to question how they kept a sense of direction ("Ragged clouds were hurrying overhead, dark and low.").

    Do we have some outdoor experts here, who can offer us an evaluation whether this looks possible or not?
     
    Kolbitar likes this.
  2. Kolbitar

    Kolbitar Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Occupation:
    I teach English
    Location:
    A Southern appendage in the US.
    I’m no “outdoor expert,” but I have spent time (and still do) camping and tramping the wild when I could, and often as a boy with the thoughts of the fellowship and their journeys idealized as I followed some path through “middle-earth,” axe-in-belt and roll-on-back. Tolkien wrote nothing contrary as to how a troupe could travel the wild by what he wrote, perhaps avoiding a resolution of finer detail because it was not needed for the story. There was a journey, and it was difficult, and this is relatable and believable. I get the greatest joy in outdoor travel-by-foot with minimal-yet-traditional gear. If water (the heaviest necessity) were readily available, then plodding as they did should be more-than-feasible, even without a pony.
     

  3. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2018
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    293
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Woodland Realm
    I believe Fonstad addressed some of the mileage questions in her book. I can't be sure because the book is packed away and so I'm unable to check it out. Other than that, like Kolbitar I too am an outdoorsy person, trekking, multi day group hikes, wilderness camping, etc. It is not unreasonable that a group of companions acquainted with walking above average distances would be capable of making such a journey. Heck, if the Nazgul were chasing me I think I'd have made the journey in half that amount of time...:p

    Food can be found along the way but clean drinkable water is the number one need. I agree with what Kolibar said, finer detail would have been superfluous to the story. After numerous times having to carry my part of camp on my back I would love to have a pony like Bill to lighten the load! ;)
     
    Kolbitar, Merroe and CirdanLinweilin like this.