What Was the Meaning of Frodo’s Trek in Lord of The Rings?

Did you know that Frodo hiked 2,172km on his journey to take the One Ring back to Mount Doom? That’s almost half the length of the Pacific Crest Trail in America and the equivalent of walking the entire length of Ireland three times over. 

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018

While there was no ring involved, hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland is the longest distance (350km) I have attempted until now. At that time, the trek was intended as practice for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but in truth, I also wanted to ascertain if thru-hiking (long distance hiking) was even something I found enjoyable.

And I knew this practice hike was necessary. You see, on my cycle across Africa, it took just a few hours to fully realize a distinction between drawing lines on a map and riding a loaded bicycle for twelve hours every day. In short, one of the above is either exciting or fun, while the other is often an encounter with pain, misery, and relentless questions.

Now, you might be asking yourself; with so much pain and misery involved, why even bother cycling this far? or why hike more than 4,000km on the Pacific Crest Trail?

Well, let me use Frodo to explain this one.

When Frodo Hiked 2,172km to Mount Doom

When Frodo and friends set out to take the One Ring back to Mount Doom, they embarked on an outdoor adventure of epic proportions. In fact, this long distance adventure involved camping and hiking through forests, mountains and beautiful landscapes with the occasional spot of bother in between.

As seen on this journey and other folklore or fairy tales, there are often theories regarding the greater purpose of these adventures. For example, when Dorothy left Kansas to seek out the Wizard of Oz, the ensuing story was an analogy of life and a representation of the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Cambell.

The Heros Journey and What it Means

In short, the Hero’s Journey is a famous claim that almost every myth or story is created in the same format. That is to say, each of these stories will begin in “the world of the mundane” and then finish with a triumphant return with many trials and tribulations in between.

Sounds simple, right? Kinda.

More specifically, the main characters in these stories are often bored or disillusioned with life even in spite of there being no pain or suffering. At this time, they receive a “call to adventure”, a moment in which someone or something introduces this character to a new world or a new way of life.

In the past, the character has often refused this calling for various reasons, mostly pertaining to various fearful questions.

How will I survive? What if it doesn’t work? What about the money?

However, sometimes or at some point, the character decides to cross this threshold and step into a world of uncertainty. From this moment onward, they undergo a series of trials and encounters with endless fears and temptations. At the same time, on this path, they will also find friends and possibly even a mentor who will help them on this journey.

In the end, the character has embarked on a fulfilling and meaningful adventure. Furthermore, they learn that the destination of their journey is actually the insightful knowledge that they gain from this new world and the understanding that they now have about their true potential.

And not just Dorthy but also Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Shrek, and Neo in the Matrix.

Anyway, the Hero’s Journey is also meant as an analogy in a sense that people can often feel bored with some aspect of their life. Maybe this relates to a particular career path or a college course, or possibly an unfulfilling relationship.

Either way, this theory illustrates how the meaning of these stories is often the same and relative to the world in which we live.

 

 Back to Frodo and the Meaning of his Adventure

If I take one more step, it will be the farthest away from home, that I will have ever been.” Sam, Lord of the Rings

With the above in mind, we can see the precise moment when Sam finally “departs” and crosses the threshold on his journey. We witness the realization of potential as the ring is cast, once and for all, into the fires of Mount Doom. And we see Frodo choosing how to spend the rest of his days when he sails across the high seas with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins.

It would also seem that I am not the only one who often yearns for rhyme and reason on a journey. After all, Lord of the Rings fans and enthusiasts are always quick to obsess over the finer details of this cult movie. For example, one Reddit user calculated that Frodo traveled 2,172km for six months through the wilderness to reach Mount Doom.

Sure, that’s a lot of hiking and camping which was surely deserving of an epic finale. However, I think it wrong to suggest that every outdoor adventure requires a divine purpose. In fact, my own perspective of this movie is simply that the journey itself was beautiful and worthwhile – nothing more. Indeed, as pointed out by someone on Quora, while the ring is a corrupting object made by an evil immortal being, the metaphor is not really important in Lord of the Rings and the magic of this movie is the adventure itself.

At the end of the day – it was just another story, and you enjoyed it for what it was.

Isn’t that enough reason to embark on another?

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You Can Buy ALL This Outdoor Gear For Less Than an iPhone X

You will find an iPad Mini, Canon G7X, HERO 2 Go Pro and Samsung Galaxy in my Osprey Exos 58 Backpack. Now, none of the above is a shameless plug but rather to illustrate my genuine love for smart technology and electronic devices.

In fact, I would say that electronic devices along with Facebook, Instagram, and the online world have greatly enhanced my interest in getting outdoors. That being said, until it offers some form of superpower, I just cannot justify spending more than €1,000 ($1,200) on a smartphone.

I refer to the latest Apple installment, the iPhone X. While people will continue to buy the latest iPhone in record numbers, I wanted to put this into perspective for outdoor adventurers or those looking to experience their first microadventure.

Outdoor Gear You Can Buy for The Cost of an iPhone X

With this in mind, here is a list of outdoor gear and gadgets that can be purchased for the same price as the latest iPhone:

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS (SmartWatch for Outdoor Adventures)

Petzl Actik Core Head Torch

Osprey Exos 58 (Professional Backpack)

MSR Hubba Hubba Tent

Columbia Conspiracy IV Outdry (Trail Shoes)

Outdoor Research Helium (Rain Jacket)

Believe it or not, you can purchase the entire list above for less than the cost of an iPhone X. Personally, I think Samsung will do for now, and at least then I can invest in some of this outdoor gear with the change!

More in-depth Information on the above Outdoor Gear

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch

While I have never owned a smartwatch (or had any interested to own one), they are now firmly on my radar. I say this in lieu of my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 but at the same time, this is a long-term investment.

After all, I have only ever owned three different watches and used each of them for at least four years.

At this moment, the Garmin Vivoactive is my top pick regarding affordable a smartwatch for outdoor adventures. Featuring a full range of tracking features and an attractive design, this is also one of the best GPS watches for hiking.


Petzl Actik Core

Headlamp by PetzlSimply put, this is the best head torch I have ever come across. While there are certainly options out there to match the Actik Core regarding Lumens (350), it features a rechargeable battery and a relatively sturdy design.

 

You can read my full review for the Petzl Actik Core Here

 

 


Osprey Exos 58

Picture of an Osprey Exos 58While I have reason to believe that a new Exos is arriving on the market in January, the current series is one of the best backpacks for microadventures. In fact, I wrote a full review for this backpack recently in which I described it as my number one purchase of the year.

You can read my full Osprey Exos 58 Review Here

 


MSR Hubba Hubba

MSR Hubba TentMSR Hubba Hubba is probably the most popular backpacking tent for microadventures in Europe. I would love to have one personally, but there is another model in the United States which I have my eye on at this moment. Either way, the MSR Hubba Hubba would make an impressive piece of kit for your outdoor adventures.

 

 


Columbia Conspiracy Iv Outdry

It took me a long time to pick out the best trail shoes for the Pacific Crest Trail. However, having tested these out in various weather conditions in Ireland, I can fully recommend the Columbia Conspiracy Iv Outdry. They are super light, comfortable and dry out quickly.

 

 

 


Outdoor Research Helium HD

OR Hellium Rain jacketIf I did not already have my North Face Jacket, this is most definitely the one I would be taking on my next outdoor adventure. As you should know, Outdoor Research is a solid brand, but the online reviews for this rain jacket are impressive.

 

 

 

How would you spend the money and what would you buy instead? Please let me know in the comments!


Disclosure: Please note the trust my audience has for my advice is of utmost importance to me. Hence, I will only recommend equipment I love from brands that I trust. I was not paid to review the above items and I purchased my own equipment. I am also without obligation to leave positive reviews for these products, I just know that this equipment work really well for other outdoor adventurers and so they are likely to work for you too. This page contains affiliate links meaning I might receive a small amount from the supplier should you decide to purchase an item through one of my links. Thank you for supporting me.

Please Don’t Tell Me What Adventure Looks Like

In my case, outdoor adventure is not about having the latest gear or looking a certain way.

With this in mind, I feel somewhat disillusioned with the approach taken by much of the outdoor industry. Sure, I could ignore everything that goes on and move on with my life, but then part of my purpose involves removing the obstacles (and reasons) which seem to be stopping people from getting outdoors more often.

So yes, let it be known that I take issue with how these businesses get in the way and how they make ordinary folk feel about their own potential. After all, why do we still maintain an image of runners, climbers, and hikers as perfectly toned or incredibly fit athletes?

I would like to run marathons, without training for marathons

The truth is, there are no similarities between how I feel and the image being flaunted in the outdoor industry. I am not as flexible or as slim as the exterior of my clothing suggests, and I’m the kind of person who would like to attempt a marathon, without having to train for a marathon.

In fact, when I finished struggling my way across Africa on a bicycle for one year, a British Adventurer finished the very same trip in just eighty days. Eighty days! Of course, this superhuman effort deserved serious credit, but instead, it left me feeling pretty inadequate and almost as if my own adventure was not so special after all.

But I am an Adventurer, even if I look nothing like the one we see on television. Some might say, I am a fluffy and much softer version of Bear Grylls, except I have none of his vast experience, no brands, sponsors or expensive equipment and no camera crew following me to the toilet.

Further, I am the polar opposite of that image you often find in the outdoor industry. I have fat in places which I can thankfully hide, and I am often too lazy for a ten-minute stroll never-mind the prospect of climbing a mountain. I am not proud of this being the case, but I do take pride in the fact that my outdoor adventures are motivated by an urge to reach out and engage with those who feel the same disillusion. You know, people who might also be fed up with hearing about invincible athletes as they attempt to break another long-standing record.

You know something else? Nobody refers to me as an adventurer – just me, and this was a conscious decision. You see, it is incredibly difficult to break into the outdoor industry and more to the point, I feel inadequate anytime I compare the above mentioned images to whatever I see in the mirror every morning.

After all, if I do not “look like an adventurer”, then how can this be true?

I am not as flexible or as slim as the exterior of my clothing may suggest, and I’m the kind of person who would like to attempt a marathon, without having to train for a marathon.

An Entirely Unlikely Adventurer

Back in 2013, I spent one year riding a bicycle across Africa as a means of combating some very serious anxiety and depression. Scaling the highest mountains in Africa, crossing the oldest deserts in the world and camping in unprotected lion territory – the adventure was quite a primitive journey and this was extremely important for my own self-awareness.

However, it was enlightening for the fact that I was suddenly fixated on the road ahead and without depression or any concern for my general appearance. On the contrary, I felt empowered during this time by my own potential both mentally and physically. Yes, I was vastly inexperienced on that trip but this was when I started to realize how there was really no difference between an adventurer and the average Joe Soap.

In short, my motivation and outlook on that trip went from reaching a destination to slowing everything down and appreciating the present moment.

Training for the Pacific Crest Trail

Since then, I have taken many more adventures and recently announced my plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018.

However, as I began “training” for the Pacific Crest Trail, I developed a habit of assessing my physical condition each and every morning. Standing in front of the mirror in my boxer shorts, I felt that same familiar feeling of inadequacy.

An adventurer? Who are you kidding? I guess we never see pictures of these adventurers arguing with their insecurities in a bathroom.

As the weeks passed, I tried to ignore these concerns and continued to research every last thing about the trail. However, throughout this process, I was still feeling a distinct resentment for the images and stories filling my newsfeed. It was almost as if Facebook was in on it.

Fastest, strongest, first, best – since when was an outdoor adventure a competition?

Once again, I did not look like any of these adventurers and this was certainly not the way I looked or felt on an adventure.

Outdoor Adventure Does Not Look a Certain Way

Derek Cullen

But here’s the thing; focusing on my appearance and the physical requirement of an adventure was a failure of my own making. Instead of realizing my strength, I was choosing how to feel about my adventure based on advertisements and promotional material. I mean; so what if someone broke records and managed to look good at the same time? Good for them.

It was me – I was the only person stopping myself from becoming an “Adventurer”. And for this reason, I not only decided to call myself an adventurer but I also determined that I should establish myself as a different face in the outdoor industry.

That is to say; an adventurer who tries, cries, vomits, fails and tries again.

The thing is, you know what has happened since I started to call myself an adventurer? Nothing. Yes, I finally realized that nobody really cares about my own insecurities and they certainly have no will to challenge me anytime I refer to myself in this way.

To summarize, I am entirely obsessed with nature and the great outdoors. However, for as long as I can remember, I have felt no connection with an industry that continues to tell me what I should look like to enjoy the outdoors. The truth is, I may never look like a typical adventurer, but I see more value in encouraging other people to get out there, rather than feel sorry for themselves in the bathroom.

Microadventures Can Change the Way You Feel About Life

When I first began riding a bicycle through Africa, there was little on my mind other than the road ahead. From desert crossings and mountain climbs to remote tribes and wildlife around my tent; there was more than enough to occupy the mind.

In short, I spent one year focusing on the simple pleasures and far from the distractions which often consume my daily life. As my cousin says; “we can be busy fools” and it can be all too easy to allow mundane or meaningless thoughts to consume our time each day.

Replacing “Reasons” with Microadventures

Anyway, I also realized during that trip that taking a long distance adventure is not a realistic option for most people. Simply put, it seems like a ludicrous amount of time, money and commitment, not to mention the fact that cycling across Africa is a rather silly idea.
Continue reading Microadventures Can Change the Way You Feel About Life

5 Things to Know Before Hiking the Wicklow Way

When I began hiking the Wicklow Way in October, I had little idea what to expect. Starting in Dublin, I had intended to hike the entire way to Clonegal but I ended up getting a little sidetracked. The truth is, the very first few days of hiking the Wicklow Way are much more remote, scenic and rewarding than what comes afterward.

Things to Know Before Hiking the Wicklow Way

Cliffs of Moher Adventurer

1. Wild Camping on the Wicklow Way

You must keep in mind, Ireland is a very tourist orientated island. That is to say; the tourist board has done a fantastic job of commercializing every aspect of the country, even the Cliffs of Moher. Anyway, for this same reason, you will be pushed and guided toward either organized tours or rather expensive accommodation.

Now, please disregard if you wish to stay in guesthouses every night but also know that wild camping on the Wicklow Way super easy and the most affordable way to enjoy one of the most beautiful long distance hikes in Ireland. In fact, between Dublin and Glenmalure, I felt sad having to pass up on many wild camping opportunities for the fact that it was too early in the day.

Why should you go wild camping on the Wicklow Way? More fun and less money.


2. Water is Free

Access to water is one of the main concerns while hiking the Wicklow Way. However, there are mountain streams every day and as long as you make a habit of carrying one or two litres, there is nothing to worry about. In fact, with the ridiculous price of water nowadays and the fact that you will be drinking so much, I recommend making use of the rivers.

Pick up a water treatment kit as part of your Wicklow Way Packing List.


3. Take Out Your Sleeping Bag On Arrival in Camp

Most sleeping bags consist of down feathers which take time and space to expand. Keep in mind, these are the feathers which keep you warm at night and having been stuffed into a backpack all day, they are likely squished. For this reason, it is not a bad idea to take out your sleeping bag when you get to camp and allow it expand.


4. Stop Trying to Keep Your Hiking Shoes Clean

Hiking the Wicklow Way

In other words, if you see a puddle or a particularly large amount of mud, don’t be afraid to step right in there. Of course, the intention should not really be to step in these puddles but rather to quit procrastinating and just let it be. If you spend each day trying to avoid mud and puddles, you are choosing anxiety over adventure. Similarly, you can also avoid the disappointment of when you do accidentally step in cow dung.


5. Do Not Play Games in The Wild

Although hiking the Wicklow Way is possible for hikers with no experience, make no mistake, the trail is still extremely wild. Many rescues are required in Wicklow throughout the year and most often, for the fact that the hikers were unprepared. You should expect bad weather, slippery slopes and even the prospect of getting lost. Now, you might think this sounds dramatic but try telling the Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team that when they come to pick you up.

When are you hiking the Wicklow Way? Please let me know in the comments below!