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?