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Old 01-17-2002, 09:03 PM   #1
Turambar
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Tolkien Was Tolkien a Hiker?

Does anyone know if Tolkien was a serious or semi-serious hiker? Obviously there's a lot of wandering in the woods and hiking over mountains in The Hobbit and LotR (and Silm too, to a lesser extent), and many of the descriptions of hiking and camping ring very true to me. E.g. the hobbits in the Old Forest being "forced always to the right" (seems to happen - not necessarily to the right of course - often around the base of trail-less peaks). And of course short cuts making long delays. And camps without campfires being "cheerless". Plus the timelines of all the hikes seem very accurate, if you take into account that hobbits are only 4 feet tall and couldn't make as good time as we could. And certain descriptions - the "tilted valley" near Mordor. Of course Tolkien had an excellent imagination and could have written all of these passages without leaving his armchair at Oxford. Still, if I had to guess I would say that they WERE based on real life experiences.

Anyone familiar with JRRT's biography have an answer?
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Old 01-19-2002, 05:12 PM   #2
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Question

Hm. I'm afraid I wouldn't know myself, but from what you've said above, it certainly sounds feasable.
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Old 01-24-2002, 01:03 PM   #3
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Anyone else know anything about this topic? [img]smilies/confused.gif[/img]
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Old 01-24-2002, 04:43 PM   #4
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Here's a little tidbit, from Letters:
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The professional aunt is a fairly recent development, perhaps; but I was fortunate in having an early example: one of the first women to take a science degree. She is now ninety, but only a few years ago went botanizing in Switzerland. It was in her company (with a mixed party of about the same size as the company in The Hobbit) that I journeyed on foot with a heavy pack through much of Switzerland, and over many high passes. It was approaching the Aletsch that we were nearly destroyed by boulders loosened in the sun rolling down a snow-slope. An enormous rock in fact passed between me and the next in front. That and the 'thunder-battle' – a bad night in which we lost our way and slept in a cattle-shed – appear in The Hobbit.
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Old 01-24-2002, 05:05 PM   #5
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Thanks Mr. Underhill - very interesting.
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Old 01-24-2002, 05:38 PM   #6
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Tolkien

Paging through Letters a bit further, I found an expanded account of this Swiss hiking/camping trip in Letter #306, if you can get access to a copy. Tolkien says he was 19 when it happened. The countryside, the trip, and a few experiences he had on it obviously had a profound and lasting effect on him; writing some fifty-six years later, he says, "Our wanderings mainly on foot in a party of 12 are not now clear in sequence, but leave many vivid pictures as clear as yesterday (that is as clear as an old man's remoter memories become)."
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Old 01-24-2002, 10:04 PM   #7
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Tolkien

I haven't read Letters, but Tolkien never falls into the trap of the ever-handy 'cave' to sleep in; fires go out or can't be lit at all; bugs exist and harry pathetic traveller/victims; the weather is a constant source of happiness or misery; food a primal concern; terrain effects travel time; people who don't know where they're going get lost, every time. Sounds like my backpack trips.

Mr. U.: yab-yum? Familiar with karma yoga/Annuttaratantra?
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Old 01-25-2002, 01:12 AM   #8
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Mr. U.: yab-yum? Familiar with karma yoga/Annuttaratantra?
Say, that last is a mouthful. Reminds me of a certain nick. I'm familiar only in the most superficial sense, and merely as a dabbler in comparative mythology. Yin-yang's lesser-known cousin, yab-yum, seems to have suffered from a critical marketing error -- "YabYum" could be the name of a jazzy new bubblegum product. Yet behind it lies a very profound concept (and here I'm sure I'm mangling basic precepts of Tibetan Buddhism - apologies) of the harmonious union of the temporal and the eternal. It was just this combination of phonic silliness and metaphysically-tinged symbolism which drew me to the term.

This evening, though, I'm feeling a stronger kinship with the Hindu warrior-king Muchukunda than with the Buddha. As I read it, Muchukunda helped the gods defeat an army of demons, and was granted by them in thanks the realization of his highest wish. "All he asked was that he might be granted a sleep without end, and that any person chancing to arouse him should be burned to a crisp by the first glance of his eye." I can get behind that.

Anyway, I perceive that I have strayed off topic. Um -- an Enigma!
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Old 01-25-2002, 04:37 AM   #9
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Hmmm. So basically the High Pass is the Aletsch? I think I'll remember that next time I go there. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 01-25-2002, 05:47 AM   #10
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By the way, for those of you who don't know it:
Hiking is FUN!!
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Old 01-25-2002, 05:48 AM   #11
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Letter #306 that Underhillo referes to is, if I remember correctly, a letter to Michael Tolkien (JRRTs son) which at the time had just visited Switcherland. In the letter JRRT gives a long and interesting account of the hiking tour in his youth. He also states the certain mountains (which I unfortunatly cant remember the names of) were the inspirations of the Mountains of Moria.
And besides that he gives a fuller account of the story of the loose boulders that nearly killed him.
Besides that the account if full of amusing little tales from that trip. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 01-26-2002, 02:59 AM   #12
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Mr. U:
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Originally posted by Mister Underhill:
Say, that last is a mouthful. Reminds me of a certain nick.
Hm, you're right.. not as original as I thought.

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"YabYum" could be the name of a jazzy new bubblegum product.
Ha! Too true. Actually it has a somewhat *blush* connotation for those who practice the Annutara, which has an ultimate meaning similar to what you mention, but a relative meaning.. if you conjoined a Mars & Venus symbol you'd get a similar meaning, on a more ordinary level.

Rather daring of you if you knew, I thought.

And mangle Tib. buddhism however you like! My mechanic doesn't expect me to be an expert on on cars, I don't expect non-Bs to be expert on Buddhism. This is a Tolkien forum!

Hikers, all! Hiking is the greatest, but I laugh because I am a rain-magnet.
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:43 PM   #13
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Leaf Malvern College

Tolkien attended Malvern College, West Midlands and wandered (rambled) along to the Worcester beacon in his youth. I was told this from a teacher who worked at a nearby primary school beneath the Malvern Hills. They said he did a lot of hiking in Herefordshire too.

So hmm, I'm not too sure about him being an avid hiker, but this is what an old man said in Colwall village to me last year.

Take it with a pinch of salt
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Old 05-23-2008, 12:40 PM   #14
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I think Carpenter mentions the swiss tour - but I think Tolkien was remarkably untravelled in the physical world - the range of his mind is quite another thing. Apart from the Swiss trip, the ill fated French trip and the war, I think he seldom left England (once he had arrived of course). Of course the world is a smaller place now and travel much swifter and cheaper but even so it is and interesting combination to be such a great linguist and a relative stay-at-home. I know that he went to Italy and liked it very much quite late in his life but I think that was more or less it for foreign travel...and I dont' think he travelled particularly widely in the UK - just the ordinary bucket and spade type trips with the children and family visits.
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:03 PM   #15
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
He wasn't so much a hiker as an inveterate biker (at least, later in life). He road bikes because he had a distinct aversion to automobiles (part of his technology phobia).
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Old 05-23-2008, 02:35 PM   #16
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Born to be wild?

He wasn't so much a hiker as an inveterate biker

At the risk of consigning this to mirth..sorry I couldn't resist:http://pics.livejournal.com/mithalwen/pic/00008z59/
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Old 05-23-2008, 07:41 PM   #17
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
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He wasn't so much a hiker as an inveterate biker

At the risk of consigning this to mirth..sorry I couldn't resist:http://pics.livejournal.com/mithalwen/pic/00008z59/
Hey, isn't that Marlon Brandobuck?
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