10 ways Katahdin is my Mordor
I’m going on an adventure!
While I love spending most of my free time outdoors I am also a bit of a movie nerd, especially movies in a series. Stand-alone movies can be fantastic, but when it’s really good I always feel like I want to see the main character’s next adventure. And after the second one I feel like I’m actually invested in the character and daydream about doing some of their adventures with them.
So how does this relate to my thru-hike? I’m getting there…I was watching the Hobbit the other day and my mind began to draw parallels between the adventures of the hobbitses (I didn’t make that word up, Gollum said it first) and the journey I’m about to take.
So without further ado, I give you the 10 ways I’m like a hobbit and how Katahdin really is my Mordor…
- Mountains, mountains, and more mountains: This one is pretty obvious. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail gives you mountains for months and is an overall elevation gain equivalent to climbing Mount Everest 16 times.
- My own Samwise: I am blessed with Kimmy’s company during my journey. Like Samwise she is my constant companion. She makes me laugh when I need it most, points out when I’m wrong (we all know that doesn’t happen often, lol), and gives me the extra push when I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what we are accomplishing.
- Merry & Pippin: I noted previously that I have tremendous support from family and friends and I can’t stress that enough. Though Pippin and Merry actually had the chance to take the journey and stand by Frodo’s side physically I have many friends in my corner assisting me financially, mentally, and emotionally. Each of them are my own version of Merry and Pippin.
- Hobbit feet and hiker stink: While I don’t have giant, hairy, too-big-for-me hobbit feet I will still inevitably end up with the grossness on my appendages that all thru-hiker’s face. Chances are good my feet will swell and I’ll gain blisters while simultaneously losing toenails. My feet will smell worse than many other parts of me and all of me will have hiker funk.
- En gaurde: I get to carry a sword! Ok, not really. I’m actually just carrying a couple of knives, but it’s more fun to pretend they are swords (some of us never grow up). And I’d never plan to use one on anybody (I don’t think Bilbo ever did either and look what happened there, but we’ll keep that between us).
- Eat all the food: One thing that all thru-hikers will tell you they love is the ability to eat anything they want all the time and still lose weight. I’m leaving in 16 days and my dropboxes have enough food for an army (ha, ha! Just kidding, I eat like an army). There will most definitely be breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper…and let’s face it, probably a midnight snack.
- Ringwraiths: These are the people who were killed, brought back to life by dark sorcery, and sent to hunt down Frodo and his friends to kill them and keep them from accomplishing their mission. I have read many aspiring thru-hiker tales of people being very negative and judgmental towards them, people outright believing and verbalizing they will fail, and/or withholding support in hopes the person wouldn’t go through with it. However, thankfully I can’t think of anyone who hates me enough to actually kill me (dear any of you who don’t particularly like me, this is not a good time to prove me wrong) and I doubt you can either. The negative Nancies and naysayers will still be there, most likely the duration of the trip watching and waiting for us to fail, and it’s our job to forge ahead and combat their negativeness until we reach our destination (disappointingly enough without swords), at which point we can thrust our fists skyward in triumph and yell “nanny nanny boo-boo” (or whatever other phrase comes to YOUR mind).
- Death waiver: If you recall, the dwarves who recruited Bilbo had him sign a death waiver and part of me thinks that this should be on a thru-hiker’s to-do list (just in case you get eaten by a bear or fall off a cliff or something). Now, this may seem terrifying, and I suppose to many who’ve never signed one before it’s a scary idea. Fortunately I’ve had to sign a number of these in my time already, mostly at obstacle course races, and I can tell you that once you sign one and live through the experience it’s really not so bad at all.
- Mental fortitude: As aspiring thru-hikers we hear this again and again and again- be mentally prepared. Zach Davis says it, books say it, every former thru-hiker says it- nothing is more important than being mentally prepared. For both Bagginses (can’t claim this one either, it’s also a Gollum term) the mental aspect of their trip was the most challenging. They liked their comfortable home in the Shire. They liked the normality of life. Well, we all know there is no such thing as normality on the trail as it pertains to the rest of the world. Thru-hikers create their own routine and their own normality away from their “Shire.” For many of us breaking away from that comfortableness and braving the great unknown is the hardest part.
- God is my Gandalf: This is hands down the most important parallel I can draw. Gandalf was the pillar of strength for the hobbits and everyone around them. He was their leader, the epitome of strength and resolve. He fought for them and with them and even when they wanted him there and he wasn’t he had not abandoned them, he was fighting the dark forces conspiring against them! Isn’t that a perfect depiction of God?! He is always here leading me and giving me strength. He is constantly fighting the dark forces of Satan and sin and he sends his angels in my times of need just as Gandalf sent the eagles. Whatever I need He provides. He will see me through to the end, and when I stand triumphantly on Mount Katahdin at that sign He will cheer with me. Really, I don’t need a wizard when I have God.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31~
A few things are missing
Of course there are several ways that my trip seriously deviates from my analogy, two of which I’m extremely grateful for…
- There is no Gollum. I don’t know about you, but a creepy little used-to-be-man who argues with himself would put a damper on my 2,189 mile trip. Just look at how many problems he gave Frodo and Samwise (enough said).
- Katahdin doesn’t have a volcano with molten lava to fall into. Instead, our prize is a big wooden sign on top of a mountain with a gorgeous view.
On the other hand, there are three things missing, which I find most unfortunate…
- A most serious grievance is the lack of Legolas and really who can argue with me on this one? He is blonde, handsome, and an excellent rider, and his weapon of choice is a bow and arrows. Need I explain more?
- There is no ring that makes me invisible, but wouldn’t THAT be awesome.
- I am not accompanied by a warrior king. Yes, this is much like the “missing a Legolas” problem, but much worse. The difference between the two is that Aragorn is a keeper while Legolas is more of a handsome decoration (What can I say, I have a thing for the tall, dark, and handsome; extra points if they wield a sword and are trying to save Middle-earth).
And there you have it, food for thought about my journey and some of the challenges and fun I see along the way. Whether you are a Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan or not I hope you can see something of your favorite hero, heroin, or adventure story and apply some small bit to what you are doing or are about to do. After all, you may not be trying to save Middle-earth, but this is the journey of a lifetime!
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