April 27, 2002
I arrive at arrive same spot I left a week ago. The large boulder jutting out of the hillside with two smaller rocks to one side is across from me. My tracks from last week are easy to identify with their aggressive tread, I can almost read the words 'power core' on the instep of my prints. The unknown humanoid tracks have almost vanished, if I didn't know where and what to look for I might not see them walking along the road. In the past week, two to three shod horses have passed this way and one has returned. At least I assume it was one of the three returning. I can't be sure.
The air is crisp. As the sky continues to lighten I notice that all the trees have leafed out or almost so. I breathe deeply, soaking in the wonder that is Middle Earth. Smiling I head east with a brisk step. I feel confident that this weekend I shall find Bilbo's trolls. The horse tracks are cut by fresher tracks of elk and deer. I look up and scan the sky. No spying birds anywhere. The slopes are covered in heather and beech trees. The road begins to wind more and roll up and down as the valley narrows.
Around mid-morning I come across the largest wolf scat I have ever seen. If I didn't know better I would have thought is was from a bear. But the amount of hair in it's composition clearly marks it a wolf. I continue east thinking that might have been left by a warg. Wargs those large, malicious, and intelligent beasts used as mounts by the goblins.
I stopped for a late lunch in a nice sunny spot overlooking the Angle to the south. By the time I finished my sandwich I was nodding off in the nice warm sun. I decided to rest my eyes for just a minute, so using my pack as a pillow and shading my face with my hat I drift off to sleep. I awake 40 minutes later groggy and disoriented. I get to my feet and continue to head east. The afternoon passes quietly as the miles pass beneath my feet.
I follow my shadow up a small rise, before me the road descends into a deep valley with a river in the bottom. My heart pounds as I see an ancient stone bridge spanning the river. The river is terraced with beaver dams. The willows are swaying in the breeze. The river can be traced back to the mountains to the north. I descend into the valley. I think about fishing but decided to find the trolls first and then come back and catch some fish for dinner. I follow the road out of the valley and continue east looking for a path going north.
The hills of the Trollshaws now encroach and threaten the road on my left. I notice a cut in the high bank above the Road. I proceed up into the woods hoping that I am on the path that Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo traveled. The beach trees have all leafed out although they were still filling out. After hiking for an hour and finding nothing I begin to wonder if this is the right one. I decide to continue for one more hour and if I find nothing I will head back and continue my search. Not more than five minutes pass before the path opens up into a clearing. The sun shines warmly through the trees. I halt on the edge of the clearing catching my breath. There they are, three large trolls. One was stooping, one was standing staring at the other and a third appears to be sleeping on the ground. I approach closer.
The sleeping troll actually appears to have fallen over, it's left arm broken off at the wrist. The standing troll is literally covered in bird droppings. The trolls are very tall, at least nine feet and look very fierce. Somehow I always had a mental picture of trolls being large, overweight, mentally challenged giants. These creatures are just the opposite, they are covered in muscles and their demeanor is quite fierce. I dig out my camera and look for the best angle to take some pictures. Laughing I set the camera down and approached the 'sleeping' troll. "Ok Bert, or is your name Tom, lets see if we can't get you back on your feet." After grunting and groaning for a good ten minutes I decided that I am not strong enough to help poor Bert to his feet. Bert must weigh over 800 pounds. I wonder what the relative density of stone is to living troll flesh. Anyway I took a fair amount of pictures from various angles. I even took one picture with the self-timer so I could be leaning up against Tom. My pictures from last week should be ready by now, I wonder how they came out.
I remember the troll's hole must be nearby. A path continues up into a thick wooded slope. The path is steep but doesn't go very far before leveling off and soon turning to the left. There, lying under the face of a low cliff overhung with trees is a doorway and a door is lying on the ground nearby. I mimic Pippin, "Surely this is a troll-hole if I ever saw one!"
I pause outside the door staring into the rock-chamber, letting my eyes adjust to the light. Inside everything is draped in shadow, nothing can be made out. I fish out my MagLite, twist it on and enter. Forsaken indeed. The place has obviously been used by animals as a lair. Luckily for me they have long since gone. A careful search reveals that everything of value has long since been removed. I exit the troll-hole, replace my torch and head back down the trail. Before going ten steps I stop and take a picture. Don't know when I will be back this way again.
I spend the rest of the afternoon catching a half-dozen small trout, 8 to 10 inch'rs, on a size 16 elk hair caddis. I find that I hate fishing in tight willows in Middle Earth as much as I do on our Earth. I can't count the number of times my back cast got snagged on a willow, or my hat got knocked off. This gave me an opportunity to practice my roll-casting although even that was difficult in the dense willows. As the sun falls behind the western valley ridge I have my fire going and I am cooking my trout. I devour the three largest and save the rest for breakfast. After dinner I boil some water and have some coffee, this time I brought some instant, enough for tonight and a cup tomorrow.
I set the fish aside to cool and bank the coals of the fire. I stretch out on some grass and feel my back relax as I look at the stars. The moon is full tonight. Although I am not an astronomer I can recognize a few constellations. There was one I recognized, Ursa Major, or the big dipper, but here in Middle Earth it is also known as Durin's Crown and if I remember correctly the Burning Briar. If I ever make it to the Mirrormere I will have see if it really is visible during the daylight. As I drift off to sleep I wonder if Thorin and company's treasure from the trolls was completely recovered or if some of it still lies buried nearby.