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Discussing: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Journeying to and from Rivendell

I am having a little bit of a timeline problem, and am hoping that you folks will be able to help me sort it out.

The journey to Rivendell from Minas Tirith is about 1000 miles, and Boromir accomplished it in 110 days, about 700 miles on horse, and 300 on foot. My estimate is 11.6 miles a day on horse (and on roads and plains), and then 6 miles a day on foot when in more-or-less wilderness country. 

Now cue in problem. When the Grey Company comes to Aragorn in Rohan, they say that word came to them in Rivendell (from Lorien) that Aragorn needed them. We know they were in Rivendell, because Arwen sent her banner with them. Assuming Galadriel sent this message right after the Fellowship left Lorien, which I believe makes sense, because only then would she know what they needed, the message was sent somewhere around February 15th. The Grey Company meets up with Aragorn on March 6th.

Assuming that Galadriel did not send a telepathic message (something that I believe they added in the movies), the messenger would have had to go approximately 250 miles to Rivendell, and then the Grey Company (gathered in haste) would have ridden about 600 miles to meet up with Aragorn. Even if one assumes an average of 20 miles a day on horseback, because these people know the land well, it should have taken 13 days for the message to get to Rivendell, a few days for the Rangers to gather, and then a journey of 30 days to Rohan. Altogether, the shortest it could have taken would be 48 days, with everything going perfectly (I'd guess more like 52-55). According to Tolkien, they made it 21.

Now, perhaps the message was sent on January 18th, the day after the Fellowship arrived in Lothlorien. Thought I think it would take a little longer for Galadriel to come up with her plan, that would give 48 days. Closer and perhaps solved, but I'm not buying it yet. I am not sure if 20 miles every day is feasible for men on horseback, Dunedain or no, and I have very high doubts about the likelihood of horses in Lothlorien. So if anyone has information on these points, or a factor that I've missed on the ridings of Boromir or the Grey Company, it would be most helpful.

~MerryK 

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

I don't have the books in front of me so I'm going on memory and a quote I used in one of my stories, but weren't the twins sent with a message from Elrond not from Galadriel? Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly though but if that was the case, Elrond could have sent them sooner.


"I bring word to you from my father: The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead." Elrohir said solemnly.

"Always my days have seemed to be too short to achieve my desire," answered Aragorn. "But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road."

"That will soon be seen," said Elrohir. "But let us speak no more of these things upon the open road!"

When Aragorn asked about tall staff that Halbarad carried, the ranger answered, "It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell. She wrought it in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!"

"Now I know what you bear. Bear it still for me a while!" ~~ Return of the King, Chapter 2, The Passing of Grey Company
Of course the other option is the Boromir got lost and being a typical man refused to ask for directions. Laugh out loud But seriously - maybe Boromir didn't go the same route that the Dunedain would take since he was a lone man rather than a company of warriors (like he probably would take the 'safest' route not necessarily the fastest one)

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Personally, I think Galadriel would have sent the message ASAP.  There wasn't much point in coming up with a specific plan at that point: things were moving too fast and too unpredictably.  Mustering the Company would take a least a week, probably more, depending on where you think the Dunedain lived or were stationed.  The best Rangers should not have all been in one place.

Boromir took so long because he was in unfamiliar territory most of the time; the Grey Company--or at least E&E--would have known much of the route well.  That makes a big difference.  The heroic ride of the Grey Company after they came out of the Paths of the Dead had them pushing 50 miles a day, which is about the most even crack horsemen on prime mounts can sustain for more than a day or two.  An average 20 miles a day was perfectly feasible for experienced riders.

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Thank you, Alassante and Adaneth!

Alassante, Chapter 2 of ROTK says: "Word came to Rivendell, they say: Aragorn has need of his kindred. Let the Dunedain ride to him in Rohan!" Legolas says Galadriel sent it, but the Grey Company actually doesn't know. So there goes the Galadriel-sent-a-messenger idea altogether, unless she sent an eagle (or Elladan and Elrohir have short-term memory loss Wink). Hmm. What sort of message could she have sent that could be anonymous? Perhaps she conferred with Elrond telepathically and he forgot to tell his sons? *sighs* And all I wanted was clarification on travel times to be used in a Fourth Age fic. Wink

Adaneth, while Boromir would be unfamiliar in the North, certainly, what about up till Tharbad, where he would have been going across Rohan and then up the North/South Road? Unless he got really really lost after Tharbad, would it still have taken so long? As for Galadriel's message, I'm just not sure that she would have realized immediately that Aragorn needed his Rangers, and I'm even less sure that she would not have told him about sending such a message if possible, which leads me to believe that she thought of it after the Fellowship left. And as Halbarad said that 30 was all that the Rangers could gather "in haste", I doubt they were the best, just who were within a week's gathering or so. Thanks for the confirmation on horse-riding limits!

~MerryK

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Hi MerryK,

It absolutely cracks me up that you brought this up because Agape4Gondor and I live in the same city and along with some other Annuniacs we get together every month or so. And nearly every time we do this, Agape and I discuss just this question. And usually dissolve into giggles before too much longer. Why? Because it's simply wrong, at least if Boromir was travelling the majority of that time and kept anything at all like a straight course.

Do you have Karen Fonstadt's Atlas of Middle-earth? If so, look starting at page 157--she lists her calculations for how far the characters travelled, and reading her explanation of those calculations on p. 156 I'd say they're basically realistic. To put it simply: the mileage while on horse is about 10mph more than what you calculated for Boromir, and on foot the only time it even gets close to what you suggest is after Frodo is injured. Most of the time even they beat him. Am I supposed to believe that Gondor's favorite son can't beat out a ranger accompanying four half-starved hobbits, one of whom is injured and so needs to rest a good bit.

The more likely answer (IMO) is a combination of two things. First, I can see Boromir taking a series of detours. Certainly he wouldn't have rushed out of Edoras, that would have been rude. And while I think the attack on Osgiliath was a wake-up call that war was coming, I don't think Boromir was in a particularly desperate hurry to get through this. Gondor had just been at war too long, he wanted to get to Rivendell and back in a reasonably speedy manner but wasn't going to kill himself to get there a week quicker. He seems to have ridden one horse (not changed out or anything), and he has no great hesitancy about hanging out in Rivendell for a few weeks before the fellowship is even announced.

Also, I think he did get lost. Rivendell is hard to find, on purpose. Remember how much hard time they had in The Hobbit finding it, and that was with Gandalf to show them the general direction. Boromir has no *clue* except it's in the North. And the last time Gondor really messed with the North it was to fight against Angband. I can see Boromir maybe really overshooting things, ending up in Angband, and coming down through the Trollshalls and bumbling around a bit because he doesn't know where he's going or even what he's looking for. Remember, it took Gandalf so long to get through that that he barely beat Frodo to Rivendell even though he probably could have gotten there at least a week --most likely more-- before if he'd kept to the road. (He was to Weathertop three days before Frodo, and Shadowfax was making really good time.) If Boromir got lost there he could have lost a month, easily, especially given he doesn't even know he's going in the right direction.

I know that it's heresy to question Tolkien's figures, and I'm not saying they're not canon--but they're so far off everything else, if Boromir really did take 110 days he had to take a few side-trips or go around in great big circles, if that figure's to be at all realistic. Not saying that figure's wrong--just saying that I wouldn't use it as a basis to extrapolate how long it would take others to travel similar distance.

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Ok, Marta, now you've got me in hysteric giggles! Laugh out loud I simply forgot about that resource, and am now absolutely shaking my head in disbelief. Unsurprisingly, I just trusted Boromir's confident "I'm a great traveler" air, and look where it took me! Good grief, how lost did he get? I was calculating a little bit of backtracking, but as even an amateur hiker I was skeptical of only managing 6 miles of travel in the right direction a day. Considering that's the only place with particularly unrealistic travel mileage, there must be much more that's left untold. Well, I do have a better idea of the time it takes to get to Rivendell, despite the sidetracking with Boromir. (And I have been bitten by the most glorious Nuzgul, so even sidetracking is not completely bad...)

On the other, more serious, hand, I've always had the feeling that Boromir knew somewhat of his destination. Isildur had good relations with Imladris, and some of Isildur's writings ended up in Minas Tirith...I would guess that there would at least be a reference to the location of Imladris. Of course actually finding it, with Elrond using Vilya to keep out casual orcs and other visitors, that last stage alone might have taken a month. (Oh dear, 'nother Nuzgul.)

~MerryK


 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

I am not sure if 20 miles every day is feasible for men on horseback, Dunedain or no, and I have very high doubts about the likelihood of horses in Lothlorien. So if anyone has information on these points, or a factor that I've missed on the ridings of Boromir or the Grey Company, it would be most helpful.

giggle, snort!  You apparently have not spent as much time as I have trying to figure out who was where when. These guys can really travel quickly when they have to.

For example: Aragorn captures Gollum down Mordor way on February 1.  They travel together for 50 days - on foot! - and arrive at Thranduil's Halls on March 20th - averaging 20 miles a day!

But that's nothing compared to what he does right after that.  After interrogating Gollum for whatever length of time Gandalf feels necessary, which was probably no more than three or four days, they head off westwards so Gandalf can arrive at Bag End on April 12th.  Haul out the handy atlas, OMG! Assuming Gandalf left Thranduil's Halls on March 24th, he did the journey of 935 miles in 19 days.  That's averaging darn close to 50 miles per day, even over the mountains. And this is pre-Shadowfax. As far as we know, he's on foot too!

Aragorn is not far behind him, as he is known to be at Sarn Ford on May 1st.  If we can assume he travelled at least 200 miles in the 30 days of January while he hunts for Gollum (that's only about 6.6 miles per day) by the time he arrives at Sarn Ford, he's already walked 2000 miles in the first 120 days of 3018.  

I don't think you need to worry about Halbarad and company riding 600 miles in 21 days. Twenty-eight miles a day for these guys would be a stroll!

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Thanks Gwynnyd! There is so much to learn about this world, that I end up learning certain pieces only when I need them (my specialties are family trees and languages). Now that I think of it, did not the Three Hunters average about 45 miles per day on foot? Though that of course was only a few days, and I'm thinking long-term. But Aragorn's certainly not called the greatest tracker for nothing, whatever one can say about Boromir. Wink (Looking back, I am wondering how I ever could have thought Boromir's trip a good example...)

~MerryK

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Legolas says Galadriel sent it, but the Grey Company actually doesn't know.

I don't have RotK here with me.  Do they say they don't know, or do they just not say?  The sons of Elrond and the Dunedain aren't exactly chatty fellows--spies of Mordor all over the place, etc.

As for Galadriel's message, I'm just not sure that she would have realized immediately that Aragorn needed his Rangers, and I'm even less sure that she would not have told him about sending such a message if possible, which leads me to believe that she thought of it after the Fellowship left.

That's a good point: she probably would have consulted with him if he was available.

There's a major factor no one has mentioned yet in regards to Boromir's long, slow journey: after he lost his horse at Tharbad, he was most certainly living off the land, carrying no food.  Iroquois women could effectively end wars by denying their warriors corn for rations--it takes substantial amounts of time to hunt and gather, especially in an unfamiliar landscape.  I suspect that, as a noble in a very civilized society, Boromir's hunting skills were more recreational/training for war than for efficiently filling the belly, and his gathering skills pretty basic.  Most of Gondor's troops would have been well-supplied.  He would probably have spent at least half of each day getting food, and if he made a large kill, he would probably have camped out by it long enough to dry the meat for future use.

Aragorn, raised by Elves and used to travelling light in the Wild, would have set some snares before dossing down for the night, and not bothering stalking deer.  Wink

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Merry, I think many good points have already been raised by others - I just have a few further comments.

Marta:
He seems to have ridden one horse (not changed out or anything),

I disagree. The horse he lost at Tharbad was one he got at Rohan, as we Éomer later tells Aragorn. So it seems reasonably that he changed at least once.

Also, I think he did get lost. Rivendell is hard to find, on purpose. Remember how much hard time they had in The Hobbit finding it, and that was with Gandalf to show them the general direction.

And from the difficulties even Gandalf (who was often visiting there) had of finding it, perhaps Vilya had very powerful "obscuring" properties.

And from Tharbad on Boromir must have travelled on foot.

Imhiriel

 

 

Re: Journeying to and from Rivendell

Here's the full quote:

"They answered a summons, as you heard," said Gimli. "Word came to Rivendell, they say: Aragorn has need of his kindred. Let the Dunedain ride to him in Rohan! But whence this message came they are now in doubt. Gandalf sent it, I would guess."

"Nay, Galadriel," said Legolas. "Did she not speak through Gandalf of the ride of the Grey Company from the North?"

That passage seems to point to a message sent after the Fellowship left, since the summons was obviously not meant to be kept secret from Aragorn judging by the message she sent with Gandalf. Surprisingly, I never paid much attention to this passage, but just accepted that Galadriel sent the message and that was final. But it seems plain that either a) the Dunedain were gathered in so much haste that they forgot to ask where the summons came from, or b) it was an anonymous message.

Good point about Boromir's probable tracking skills...I imagine Faramir would be more trained, but Boromir seemed in charge of the regular army.

~MerryK

 

 

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