This morning, I met up with three friends, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin, at the Gouin Athletic Fields, and the four of us walked two miles. In a world filled with oddities, it should not amaze that three characters from the Lord of the Rings (often abbreviated as LOTR) should be in the Oxford Hills. Nor that they should be walking laps on a track.

I have decided to travel by foot from Hobbiton to Mordor. The starting point and the end point, as well as all places in between, are fictional, so I am engaging in a virtual walk. That is, I am tracking my daily walking distances and marking them on a map of Middle Earth, following the route described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels.

The first leg of the journey is from Hobbiton to Rivendell, a distance of 458 miles. I plan to walk two miles a day, six days a week, so should arrive in Rivendell sometime in mid December.

The second leg is from Rivendell to Lothlorien, 462 miles. The third leg is from Lothlorien to Rauros Falls, a mere 389 miles. And the last leg, Rauros to Mt. Doom, is 470 miles. All of which adds up to a whopping 1,779. At my slow pace, it will take me several years to complete the walk.

It seems fitting to enhance my steps by listening to the audio books of the LOTR trilogy. Hence, my claim that Frodo, Sam, and Pippin were with me this morning at the track. (Merry hasn’t joined us yet.)

Many people engage in virtual walks, and traveling to Mordor is by no means the only one available. Starting and end points vary greatly, and distances can be short or long. Also, the process can be simple or complex.

Let’s start with short and simple. Get a map of Maine and pick two points, say West Paris and Norway, a distance of nine to eleven miles depending on which route you take. Each day when you walk, whether on a treadmill, a track, or up the street and back near your home, note your distance. Let’s say you walk a half mile a day. Each day, mark your half mile on the map until you virtually arrive in Norway.

If that is too tame for you, pick a destination further away.

You might consider getting a virtual walking app for your phone (there are plenty of them, some free, some not) and choosing an exotic walk. For example, there is Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. It is 73 miles long and runs from the North Sea on the east to the Irish Sea on the west. The app will automatically keep track of your walking distances, apply them to the Hadrian’s Wall route, and show you pictures of where you are along the way.

Wherever your virtual walks take you, Frodo and I wish you well.

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