Camping Out in Middle Earth

After our yearly “camping” trip (I use quotes here because we do family camping on a site with our cars, not the kind of camping that involves hiking and any real inconvenience), I decided to take a look around LotRO and find some places I thought would make for good camping. We had perfect weather this year, and I was really struck by the picturesque beauty of the park where we camp, on the south shore of Lake Ontario.

Before I get to Middle Earth, here’s my inspiration for this post.

Bree-Land

Despite Bree-Land being, overall, a beautiful zone, I could only find one place where I would want to camp out – on the shores of Nen Harn in the northernmost area of the zone.

The Shores of Nen Harn

The Shire

The Shire might have some of the best traditional campsites available; few pests to bother you, lush scenery, and a town is never far in case you need supplies. Plus, it has some fabulous waterfalls!

Green Hill Country

Bindbole Woods

Pond in the Greenfields

Ered Luin

I’ve never tried winter camping, and I don’t ever plan to do so, which meant that the Dwarven areas in the north of Ered Luin were pretty much out. However, there are some very nice spots in the southern parts of the zone.

Nen Hilith. Mind the Wolves!

Near the Wardspire

The Grimwater

North Downs

As you can probably tell, I very much prefer camping near water. In fact, if we’re not near water, or on the water, I’m generally disappointed with the trip entirely. This makes camping out in the North Downs somewhat problematic for me, as only the southern area near Meluinen has any real water, and it’s mostly infested with Orcs! I can take pests, and even some wildlife, but I draw the line at camping amidst bloodthirsty monsters.

The other end of Nen Harn. Trolls just over the hill behind me!

Lone Lands

Like the North Downs, the Lone Lands suffer from a distinct lack of water and where you do find it, it tends to be packed full of “less than desirables” such as Trolls and the Undead. I stretched a bit, but found a few nice spots nonetheless. I broke my rule about water here, and also chose the safety of camping with others (the Earth-kin in this case).

Hanging out with the Earth-kin!

Northwest Harloeg. Few pests, no undead. Winner!

Evendim

Evendim has to be hands-down one of my favorite zones in Eriador. The lake, surrounded by mountains, is idyllic, and the whole area is dotted with ruins just waiting to be explored. I actually had to edit myself in this zone, picking only two of the best spots I could find.

On the island of Tinnundir, just outside the Warden's camp.

Barandalf, at Lithost

Trollshaws

I love the Trollshaws for it’s wooded mountains and lush forests, but like many of the zones in Eriador, it’s lacking good spots near the water. Tal Bruinen is the exception, and as long as you don’t mind the Worms, there are nice spots to pitch a tent and set up camp.

Tal Bruinen, south of Echad Candelleth

Final Thoughts

I stuck to Eriador for this initial tour; clearly Lothlorien and Mirkwood both have some sites that would prove ideal campgrounds, with stunning scenery. Also, I obviously skipped several zones in Eriador; Forochel and the Misty Mountains for the previously-mentioned winter camping, the Ettenmoors for the previously-mentioned bloodthirsty monsters, and Angmar because, well, it’s Angmar. Dreary and ugly and not generally an area I would choose to visit unless absolutely necessary. And then it’s not a vacation, is it? Plus, green and brackish water doesn’t really qualify as water. Also, I skipped Eregion because I consider that to be a part of Moria, having been introduced at the same time. It will be my first stop on the next leg of my tour, encompassing Eregion, Moria (spelunking!), Lothlorien, and Mirkwood.

Wandering around Eriador looking for campsites did make me think about lost opportunities. I know why I play the way I do; driven to accomplish as much as humanly possible in the time I spend playing. Developers create a metric ton of content (and then some) because it’s in their best interest to keep us playing for as long as possible. Playing equals paying (until September 10th, that is). For those of us who cannot commit a full work day’s worth of time to playing, it means that every moment we’re in the game, we’re essentially frenzied little OCD-monkeys squeezing everything we can out of every moment, just for a hope at experiencing any significant portion of that content.

We (as in, normal humans with normal schedules) are kept so busy with the developer’s content that it’s nearly impossible for us to sit back and enjoy our own content, such as the company of others. Go figure, social content in a multiplayer game.

As sad as it is, if there’s no reward mechanism in place, I have little time to devote to any aspect of an MMO. It’s not a matter of desire – I have more than enough desire to participate in this type of gameplay. It’s a matter of opportunity and time; I have to maximize the rewards of every minute I spend in-game if I am to keep up with my guild. At this point, I’ve given up entirely on playing anything other than my Burglar – I just don’t have the time. With only a handful of hours every week and, ironically, even less on the weekends, I’m a focused achievement-machine when I log in.

What I wouldn’t give for the opportunity to just sit around a campfire with friends and kinmates, just spending an hour or three socializing, sharing, and laughing. And yes, maybe toasting some marshmallows – or whatever Tolkein would have called them.

So, aside from pining over what might have been, anything I’ve missed? Is there a perfect camping spot I might have overlooked?

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One response to “Camping Out in Middle Earth

  1. I actually have quite a few screenshots of really beautiful locales from LOTRO that would make great camping spots…I only curse the fact I can never remember the zones or the names of the areas. There’s this one one part of the North Downs which I think is perfect…a bunch of trees, some pools of water and lots of docile hoar-mantle about…you know where I mean?

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