April 20, 2002
The dawn is gray and dreary. There is about two inches of wet snow covering everything. The trees are all bending under the weight. It is snowing lightly as I pile the remaining fuel on the embers. I stand and brush the snow off myself and my daypack. An involuntary groan escapes my lips as I stretch and try to work the kinks out of my neck. Sleeping on the ground isn't conducive to a pain free morning. The fire is soon throwing welcome heat. I eat my sandwich and drink some water standing as I look around. My campsite is secluded not scenic, just what I wanted. The forest is quiet, the sound of the fire and an occasional plop as accumulated snow falls from the trees. The air is sweet, there is a feeling of renewal in all the plants and trees. Taking a last swig of water I kick snow onto the fire and head back to the road. The ground is extremely slippery and I fall numerous times. Luckily the only thing I hurt was my pride.
The East-West road between the river Mitheithel and Bruinen has the Trollshaws to the north and The Angle to the south. Looking northwards the hills rise steeply and are lost in the snow. The trees are primarily beech with willows in the bottoms of the drainages. After walking most of the morning the snow turns into rain and I hope for a break in the weather. The only tracks I see are animal, though I am leaving tracks that even a blind hobbit could follow. At roughly1:00 PM it begins to snow again and I discover another culvert. This culvert allows another small creek, swollen by the rains, to flow under the road. I assume it eventually drains into the Bruinen. I sit on the culvert lip as I rest my legs wondering if I will do any fishing after all. The two creeks I've crossed so far are too small for any serious fishing. The thought of fishing stirs my hunger and I dig out another sandwich. The bread is starting to get soggy but it still tastes good. I once again head off to the east.
Around 3:00 PM the snow turns to rain again and the clouds start to break up. By 3:30 the rain has stopped and I can see a small patch of blue sky. My spirits rise despite a dull headache. I crane my head to the north and scan the ridges and heights. The trees eventually change to pine near the tops but I cannot see any ancient ruins. Both Bilbo and Frodo mentioned that they saw them. I remember Strider saying that men once dwelt here ages ago. These men eventually fell under the influence of Angmar and were destroyed in the war that brought Arnor to its end. I always wondered if Strider was referring to the Battle of Fornost, which was fought in the year 1974 of the Third Age. In this battle the forces of Angmar destroyed the kingdom of Arthedain, and with it the last realm of the Northern Dunedain. If so Strider was mistaken for Arnor broke up into three separate but related kingdoms; Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur in the year 861 of the Third Age. This event was not due to Angmar but to the tenth and last King of Arnor, Earendur, who did not leave a clear line of succession. Strider could trace his lineage through Earendur's eldest son, Amlaith of Fornost, who became King of Arthedain, and is considered the true heir to the line of Isildur.
At fifteen minutes before 7:00PM I come upon a small stone bridge. It spans a rather large creek flowing down from the north. My heart beats faster, is this the stone bridge mentioned by Bilbo? I don't think so as he specifically said they went down into a deep valley with a river at the bottom. The road didn't descend into a valley and I would never call the drainage before me as a river. But the drainage does have some beaver dams.
The beaver dams might indicate fish, it would be nice to have some fish for dinner. I quickly rig up. I walk down stream a couple of hundred yards and fish my way upstream. The beaver dams have fresh willow branches in them, they are just budding out. The creek is muddy but I manage to catch three rainbows 6 to 8 inches in length on a size 14 prince nymph before dusk. Better than nothing. I quickly find a little spot out of sight of the road and marginally sheltered by the wind. Once again I am forced to use some Trioxane to get a fire going. I pile on some wet wood which smokes terribly. To escape the smoke I return to the creek to clean my fish and spit them on some willows. I return to my campfire in the dark. The smoke has decreased by it still heavy in the valley.
I cook my fish as I ponder the possibility of all this smoke drawing unwanted attention. Well if it does it does, I need the warmth. I find a couple of packets of salt in my daypack and I season the trout. Their tails curl as they cook. My stomach growls as I wait for them to cool. Nothing like fresh trout, mmm, mmm, good! They are so good I even eat the fins, which remind me of potato chips. I wipe my hands and face with some snow and dry them using my handkerchief. I gather some more wood and try to find a soft rock to use as a pillow. I fall asleep before I can ponder how I plan to pass the night.