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Of these 12 days, only four warrant entries in the Tale of Years:
9. Glorfindel leaves Rivendell.
11. He drives the Riders off the Bridge of Mitheithel.
13. Frodo crosses the Bridge.
18. Glorfindel finds Frodo at dusk. Gandalf reaches Rivendell.
We can fill in a few others events by counting forwards or backwards from other secure dates.
Daylight has returned. Frodo cannot walk, so Strider and the other hobbits put him on the pony and carry the baggage themselves.
They leave Weathertop and cross the Road into the heavily thicketed lands to its south. They hear distant Nazgûl-cries as they step across the Road.
The four Nazgûl break off their pursuit of Gandalf and turn back south. Three ride for the Last Bridge to prevent the Ring from crossing it.
As the land is growing rocky, Gandalf releases Shadowfax to return to Rohan, and sets out on an eleven-day hike through the Ettenmoors.
The Tale of Years entry for October 9th, ‘Glorfindel leaves Rivendell’, is our only hint about the date on which news of the Ring’s journey reaches Rivendell. I always feel a surprise when I count the days and find that it was a mere fortnight earlier that Frodo was in the Shire speaking with Gildor Inglorion; it feels like longer.
By whatever means Gildor’s message traveled, it seems to have covered a respectable 30 miles per day between the Shire and Rivendell.
News reaches Elrond of events in the Shire a fortnight ago: of Nazgûl on the heels of the small hobbit Frodo, who is carrying a burden east without the help of Gandalf. Elrond sends Elves riding in several directions. The Elven-lord Glorfindel rides west along the Road itself.
Two days’ ride west of Rivendell, Glorfindel reaches the Last Bridge over the River Hoarwell and finds it guarded by three Nazgûl. He chases them westward, leaving a beryl stone on the bridge to mark his passage.
Now that Strider and the hobbits are five days out from Weathertop, he turns their course north-east to return to the Road—where the Last Bridge offers the only way across the River Hoarwell.
Strider and the hobbits reach a high ridge. The final stages of their journey are now in view: they can see a curve of the River Hoarwell, and beyond it the Road running along the southern edges of wooded hills. In the far distance is the rocky gorge of the Bruinen.
Leaving the hobbits concealed, Strider steps out on to the Last Bridge. There are no Nazgûl. He finds the beryl stone that Glorfindel left two days ago.
Strider leads the hobbits across the bridge, then off the Road into the stony hills to its north.
A west wind today has brought steady rain to the hills through which Strider and the hobbits are struggling eastward. Strider is unable to light a fire because of the damp.
Strider and the hobbits are soaked with rain. Steep hills now force them north instead of east—adding miles to their journey that take them no nearer to Rivendell, while lengthening the march that they will have to make back south to the Road.
After five days of searching the lands west of the River Hoarwell, Glorfindel finds the trail of Strider and the hobbits. He follows it back east across the Last Bridge.
Strider and the hobbits camp against a cliff for protection from the rain. They have food for only a few more days. Frodo’s wound is growing more painful.
After two wet days, the rain has finally stopped. The hobbits wait in camp after breakfast while Strider climbs to higher ground to learn where their hike has brought them.
Strider’s morning hike revealed that they are too far north, so he and the hobbits have spent the day struggling east, then following a valley southeast. Now the valley has dead-ended in a high ridge. They decide to attempt the climb despite Frodo’s wound.
It’s already dusk as Strider and the weary hobbits reach the top. There’s not enough light for the climb down, so they make a fire in an old quarry pit and spend a cold night on the high ridge.
Frodo is shivering. For the first time he sees the visible world start to grow dim.
Dawn brings bright clear skies. After climbing to look around with Merry, Strider leads the hobbits down off the ridge and south towards the Road. Once they reach more level ground, Frodo is able to ride again.
Pippin is surprised to find a path. Following it south, Strider and the hobbits find an old cave filled with bones, and then find the three trolls—turned to stone—that nearly cooked the 13 dwarves during Bilbo’s adventure 77 years ago. They have lunch in their shade.
Sam recites a rhyme before they hike south.
‘Troll sat alone on his seat of stone
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;
For many a year he had gnawed it near
For meat was hard to come by.
Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone
And meat was hard to come by…’
A small discrepancy is that early editions of The Lord of the Rings were unclear about whether Gandalf reached Rivendell on October 17th or 18th; Hammond and Scull have corrected the most recent editions to agree that he arrived on the 18th.
After walking for eleven days—up north through the Ettenmoors and back south along the flanks of the Misty Mountains—Gandalf finally reaches Rivendell. He and Elrond start preparing a flood in case the Nazgûl try to cross the Bruinen.
Sunset is approaching as Strider and the hobbits return to the Road after five difficult days in the hills. They hurry east as night falls.
The Elven-lord Glorfindel, riding east along the Road, overtakes Strider and the hobbits. After exchanging news, he puts Frodo on his horse and insists they keep walking overnight.
Frodo has slipped so far into shadow that, unlike his friends, he sees light coming from the Elf.
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