Why didn't Isildur go back to Rivendell the same way Frodo did?
#1
Isildur did not go back to Rivendell via the Great Road because it was far longer according to Tolkien's notes in Unfinished Tales. Yet the path he chose over Dagorlad up through the Brown Lands to the Greenwood and west along the East-West road to Rivendell not much shorter than if he went directly overland from Osgiliath to Orthanc, crossed the Isen and followed Frodo's path to Rivendell.

In fact, as I have it mapped out it is only 1-2 marches further and that is mitigated by not having to cross the Misty Mountains. Further, the bulk of journey is completely within territory that is within your realm or adjacent to that of your allies. Finally, your entire journey would be 100% observable via the Palantiri.

I understand Isildur was in a hurry and was familiar with the route he was taking. And this probably meant a lot in days where traveling over long stretches of land was problematic at best. But is seems that journeying directly to the Fords of Isen and then taking Frodo's route would be best.
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#2
Interesting question. Perhaps he wished to consult with Galadriel and Celeborn along the way. In fact, the most direct route would have been via Lorien and either Khazad Dum or the Caradhras pass, bypassing Gladden entirely.

Maybe a portion of the journey was made via boats up the Anduin? Isildur came from a mariner culture, and with a couple of known exceptions, Anduin should have been navigable.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#3
Bacchus Wrote:Interesting question. Perhaps he wished to consult with Galadriel and Celeborn along the way. In fact, the most direct route would have been via Lorien and either Khazad Dum or the Caradhras pass, bypassing Gladden entirely.

Maybe a portion of the journey was made via boats up the Anduin? Isildur came from a mariner culture, and with a couple of known exceptions, Anduin should have been navigable.

Well, they had passed Lorien, apparently without pausing, because the Gladden is well beyond it. Even if Isildur was well-acquainted enough with Gally & Kelly to just drop in and visit them, I suspect he probably wouldn't want to hear their advice regarding disposition of the You-Know-What. He'd IMO probably prefer to even avoid Elrond, who was there and witnessed what he did and failed to do, if he could have, but of course his family was there at Rivendell. Anyway, JRRT wrote that Isildur felt a need for Elrond's counsel.

Added: Also, Isildur was in somewhat of a hurry, and we know how perilous a visit to Lorien can be for those who are on a schedule!

As to the boating, we know that Rauros and the gravelly shallows/ford above it, discourages casual river travel by anything too big to portage. "Disaster" furthermore states the river had been flooded by a storm and four rainy days. In any case, "Disaster" makes it clear Isildur and Company had chosen to march, with ten baggage ponies, up the east side of the river.
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#4
Alvin Eriol Wrote:Well, they had passed Lorien, apparently without pausing, because the Gladden is well beyond it. Even if Isildur was well-acquainted enough with Gally & Kelly to just drop in and visit them, I suspect he probably wouldn't want to hear their advice regarding disposition of the You-Know-What. He'd IMO probably prefer to even avoid Elrond, who was there and witnessed what he did and failed to do, if he could have, but of course his family was there at Rivendell. Anyway, JRRT wrote that Isildur felt a need for Elrond's counsel.

Added: Also, Isildur was in somewhat of a hurry, and we know how perilous a visit to Lorien can be for those who are on a schedule!

As to the boating, we know that Rauros and the gravelly shallows/ford above it, discourages casual river travel by anything too big to portage. "Disaster" furthermore states the river had been flooded by a storm and four rainy days. In any case, "Disaster" makes it clear Isildur and Company had chosen to march, with ten baggage ponies, up the east side of the river.

As I recall (darned books still in storage), Disaster begins its account north of Lorien. A consult with G and C isn’t ruled out, although your points regarding the Ring are valid. While Rauros is nonnavigable, we know the River is navigable from there at least to Lorien. The flooding you reference could have been the impetus to strike out on foot, leaving the hypothetical river boats behind (although the decision to march up the eastern bank, thus placing a flooded Anduin between the company and its ultimate objective seems an odd one).
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#5
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#6
I don’t recall that tidbit about the preferred route being east of the Misty’s (doesn’t mean it’s not there...just means I don’t recall it). Boromir certainly didn’t take that route.

I know the trip was upriver; that’s why I mentioned Isildur’s mariner heritage. He managed to survive the Downfall on a ship, so I figure he could have mastered the art of sailing upriver. I grant that my theory is pure conjecture, but I don’t think it’s clearly ruled out.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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#7
Tolkien does not say this explicitly but I am sure the reason is logistics. Isildur took about 200 men with him. They would have to have food and water all the way. Although they carried rations with them, they could not have carried enough for so long a journey. They would have had to hunt or make stops along the way.

The Men of the Vales of Anduin were friendly to the Dunedain and Elendil and Gil-galad had marched south that way with a huge army already. On the other hand, the people of Enedwaith were not friendly to the Dunedain.

The Dwarves of Khazad-dum only used the east-gate at the time as well. And Lothlorien was also close by so it would have provided the Dunedain with protection and help if needed.

Hence, Isildur could either take the Greenway north to Tharbad, which was defended by two Numenorean forts (the Gap of Calenardhon was defended by Orthanc and Aglarond's fortresses), and then go up to Bree and follow the great road east, or he could march through the Vales of Anduin. The High Pass was not dangerous at the time (at least, there was no Orc infestation - that only occurred in the late Third Age).
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#8
Of course, there is always the 'deus ex machina' explanation: He needed the Ring to be lost in the River.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#9
Mordomin Wrote:Of course, there is always the 'deus ex machina' explanation: He needed the Ring to be lost in the River.

Good one. But then one might fairly ask, whether the Gwathlo or Swanfleet wouldn't have served as well? Of course those would be in "friendlier" more "civilized" territory near Tharbad and Dwarrowdelf, therefore less likely as sites for Orc attacks.
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#10
Michael Wrote:Tolkien does not say this explicitly but I am sure the reason is logistics. Isildur took about 200 men with him. They would have to have food and water all the way. Although they carried rations with them, they could not have carried enough for so long a journey. They would have had to hunt or make stops along the way.

But once they reached Tharbad, they would have been within Arnor and firmly back in "civilization" from that point up the Greenway, though the war had drawn off much human population. If they had turned east toward the mountains and travelled up the foothills through the lands of Eregion, they would have been roughing it more, but Khazad-Dum despite looking East ward might still have been a possible source of help and supply, if Dwarves watched it at all, or even were informed of Isildur's itenerary to begin with.

Michael Wrote:The Men of the Vales of Anduin were friendly to the Dunedain and Elendil and Gil-galad had marched south that way with a huge army already. On the other hand, the people of Enedwaith were not friendly to the Dunedain.

This might be a crucial point. The OP question was why didn't Isildur go the way Frodo went returning to Rivendell, which was along the foothills and back up thru Eregion rather than on the Road.

The foothills route was always rugged. Karen Fonstad indicated that the Fellowship only made about 15 mi/day slogging thru roadless gullied piedmont foothills country. The mileage, however, was (measuring on map) roughly half that of taking the Greenway to the crossroads at Bree, then turning East, though Isildur & Co would have made much better time doing so in their day when the bridge and roads were in good repair. Not only was there some hazard from the wild Dunlendings and other highland Gwaithurim in the foothills in Isildur's time, but he probably didn't think outside the on-road-route box much. Of course, he relied on the "invisible" Anduin river road to get north instead. When Frodo and Elrond's company returned thru Eregion, the book tells us explicitly no one dwelt there. It was a rough rugged route but at that time the Greenway and especially the ruined Tharbad bridge were no better, and the Elves and Gandalf were OK with it and in no hurry.

Michael Wrote:The Dwarves of Khazad-dum only used the east-gate at the time as well. And Lothlorien was also close by so it would have provided the Dunedain with protection and help if needed.

Hence, Isildur could either take the Greenway north to Tharbad, which was defended by two Numenorean forts (the Gap of Calenardhon was defended by Orthanc and Aglarond's fortresses), and then go up to Bree and follow the great road east, or he could march through the Vales of Anduin. The High Pass was not dangerous at the time (at least, there was no Orc infestation - that only occurred in the late Third Age).

I think it came down to a judgement call, and Isildur thought he could handle any challenge he might encounter on whichever route he chose. He also was, per "Disaster of the Gladden", in more haste than the western foothills route would allow, and he was biased toward roads, even the undocumented Anduin river road, as opposed to slogging overland in the rutted gullied foothills inhabited by unfriendly highlanders.
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#11
Michael Wrote:The Dwarves of Khazad-dum only used the east-gate at the time as well.
It would actually be interesting why.
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#12
Jaak Wrote:It would actually be interesting why.

I assume he means that with Eregion gone, they'd have no reason to pass that way. I don't know why they wouldn't have traffic with Arnor before and after the WLA, though. I think we're to understand the gates were shut after Eregion fell and Sauron occupied the country, but I don't recall a statement that the West-gate remained shut through the late Second and early Third Age even when Arnor flourished.
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#13
We are indeed back at the question of why the great East-West Road existed.
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#14
The Dwarves made the first East-West road. It ran all the way to Brithombar and Eglarest in the First Age. Elendil rebuilt it or something when he founded Arnor (according to some obscure note I won't be able to find quickly).
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#15
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#16
Isildur also had the option of sailing down Anduin to Pelargir, then north Tharbad and up the river.

Or he could sail up to the Gulf of Lune, very near to Annuminas.

It saves a lot of walking! Why didn't he sail?
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#17
Coconut Ent Wrote:Isildur also had the option of sailing down Anduin to Pelargir, then north Tharbad and up the river.

Or he could sail up to the Gulf of Lune, very near to Annuminas.

It saves a lot of walking! Why didn't he sail?

Funny, I thought I remembered this possibility being addressed in "Disaster of the Gladden" or its notes in Unfinished Tales, but it wasn't.

Using a straightedge marked to scale and the large-scale 3rd Age map in Ms. Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-Earth, I estimate the sea route to be about 100 mi (~40 leagues) march from Osgiliath to Pelargir, then 1600 water mi from Pelargir to Mithlond, then 600 mi (200 leagues) from Mithlond to Imladris by road.
The Tolkiens stated in the notes to "Disaster" that well-provisioned Numenorean infantry could easily march 8 leagues (24 miles) per day. The planned duration of Isildur's journey was stated at forty days (which works out to 320 leagues or 960 mi travelled at 24/day). Healthy tall well fed well shod warriors like Isildur's company possibly could comfortably march 30 miles/day on a paved Roman-style road (such as presumably the Arnor-Gondor Road at that time (later known as the Greenway after it fell into disrepair)and the East-West Road in Eriador), but the existence of a paved road is questionable along the east side of the Anduin.
Presumably then the water route to Mithlond would have needed almost thirty days of marching, and assuming the ship(s) could make about four hundred miles a day (assume ideal conditions), that would come to 34 days, a savings of only six days although they would have saved a quarter of the marching mileage.

Note 6 of "Disaster" states that the land route by road to Bree then hanging a right to Rivendell totalled 508 leagues, 1524 miles, which at 30 mi/day would have taken 51 days. (Aragorn told the hobbits that the road had never been measured in miles east of the Forsaken Inn, but evidently it had been measured in leagues!)

Maybe in the aftermath of the war suitable large ships were scarce as horses. Maybe Isildur saw enough Sea travel to last the rest of his life in the Downfall!
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#18
Alvin Eriol Wrote:Maybe Isildur saw enough Sea travel to last the rest of his life in the Downfall!
That doesn't seem likely, considering that, after the fall of Minas Ithil, Isildur sailed down the Anduin and then went with his wife and sons by sea to Lindon seeking his father. Isildur did not seem to have any discernible aversion to the Sea at the end of the 2nd Age.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#19
Quote: I estimate the sea route to be about 100 mi (~40 leagues) march from Osgiliath to Pelargir, then 1600 water mi from Pelargir to Mithlond, then 600 mi (200 leagues) from Mithlond to Imladris by road.

They could sail from Osgiliath all the way to Pelargir then up to Mithlond. In Return of the King, after Frodo and Sam were rescued from Mount Doom, Aragorn's ships were moored at Cair Andros upstream of Osgiliath. How far upstream you can sail up Anduin, I don't know. But there is really no need to march to Pelargir. I suspect sailing downstream to be faster, and also easier on their legs... Smile
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#20
Couple of thoughts...

1. Perhaps Isildur’s route was driven by a desire to conduct a reconnaissance in force along the Anduin vale. Dol Guldur remained unreduced in the Last Alliance wars, so perhaps one objective was to assess its strength following Sauron’s downfall. He did wind up getting an answer to that question. Oops.

2. Somewhat related, I wonder if the route selection was influenced by the affect of the Ring. The Ring tended to act on mortals via hubris, which certainly seems in play in Isildur’s rather foolhardy decision to travel nigh to Dol Guldur with a relatively small force.
Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

I don't have any humble opinions.
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