Rangers of the North
The Den Lóke.
Strictly speaking, this gap between Mount Gundabad and the Grey Mountains merely allows passage from the Northern Wastes onto the Gunadalok Shelf. For a traveler who, for good reasons or bad, wishes to go north of Carn Dûm and bypass the mountains, this is the only route that won’t equire
months of winter passage across the Forodwaith and the hunting grounds of the Dragons of the Withered Heath.
Topping out well above the tree line, this exhausting passage at the northern end of the range is
heavily traveled by the folk of Angmar. A side passage, the Aksa Ruin, leads directly to Mount Gundabad. The Misty Passes. The double pass over the Misty Mountains connects the headwaters of the River Bruinen and the vale of Anduin. Its formal title is the Orocirith en Forndor (S, “High-climbing Pass of the North”) or the Doncirith, or simply the High Pass. The route itself is quite ancient. The lower of the two passes was cleared for cart traffic in the early Second Age by Dwarves of Durin’s City. The higher was opened up by Arnorian engineers in the early Third Age. It is normally used only when the Orcs of Goblingate, which is directly under the mountains to the north, harass traffic on the lower, safer route.
The Redhorn Pass.
Also called the Cirith Caradhras, this passage was used by the first Dwarves to enter Eriador.
The pass actually lies between the peaks of Redhorn and Cloudyhead on the north side and Silvertine on the south. On its eastern side, it drops into the Dimrill Dale (S. “Nanduhinon”), and travelers may then pass along the western edge of the Elven kingdom of Lórien and into Gondor. The Dwarven city of Khazâd-dum lies beneath Silvertine, with entrances on either side of the mountains; Dwarven travelers may be able to take this subterranean route and save time and effort.
The Cloud Pass.
A secondary route, the Cloud Pass (S. “Cirith Faniun”), on the eastern side of the main ridge of the Hithaeglir, winds between redhorn and Cloudyhead, allowing a traveler to avoid the Dimrill Dale. It then merges with a path along the northern fringe of Lórien in order to enter the northen part of the vale of Anduin. Melkor, the fallen Vala, called upon many Maiar to
aid him in the raising of the Hithaeglir. Unknown and unknowable to most mortals, one of them is entombed within the substance of Caradhras. In essence, the mountain is a sentient being; it is virtually always asleep and effectively blind and deaf by mannish standards, but is capable of affecting the substance of its own mass and the air around it using what mortals would consider
to be magical means. The spirit of Caradhras has little interest in the events of the world, and typically undertakes to think and act only when prodded by powerful sorcery. The only grudge it carries is against the Dwarves who are digging at its roots to obtain the rate metal mithril. The Khazâd are careful not to speak ill of the mountain while they are working under it or
traveling over it. They keep their mining tunnels within Caradhras small and clean of debris. It is considered the best policy among the Dwarves to do nothing to gain the mountain’s attention.
GM Note: The mountain spirit is effectively 150th level. He must make Perception checks (at +0} to become aware of any matter or thought that might concern him, and then there is only a 10% chance that he will actually take action. Other then this groping awareness Caradhras can only be communicated with through spells designed to summon and/or control supernatural creatures. He has 600 power points and can act on his sluggish thoughts using any spell from any list that involves his natural elements, including the water in his streams and the air constantly blowing into clouds over his peak. Sauron, Galadriel, and Durin’s Bane all know what Caradhras is, and have attempted to manipulate the mountain with their magic. Caradhras does not like to be bothered, and he is not so much evil as simply very old and very bitter. He almost never uses his power in
a direct attempt to kill a troublemaker, and causes himself pain with landslides and cave-ins only in the most drastic of situations.
The Gap of Calenardhon.
This was known in the Second Age as the Calenhyarden, (S. “Green Southern Passage”).
It will be known after the 26th century of the Third Age as the Gap of Rohan. A purely lowland
passage, it can be used freely as long as the Dunlendings of Dunfearan are not involved in either an internal or external war. In T.A. 1643, Gondorian patrols from Angrenost, the fortress at the southern end of the mountains centered around the tower of Orthanc,protect the gap and patrol into Dunfearan as far as the watershed line between the valleys of the Dunstrem and the River Angren (Isen), within five days ride of Tharbad.
The Giant Trace.
Aside from the standard paths in the mountains, all of them difficult and most dangerous,
there is one known only to a select group. This is the Giant Trace, a trail that winds along the entire western side of the Misty Mountains for more than a thousand miles at or just below the tree line. It runs south from the Ettenmoors in Rhudaur, cuts across the High Pass east of Rivendell, stands high above the entrance to Khazad-dum in the central part of the range, then
sends connecting trails over to Fangorn on the eastern side of the mountains, drops down into the Gap of Calenardhon along the watershed line, eventually turning westward into Enedhwaith while branching off a side trail that crosses the Isen and Adorn rivers and goes into the White Mountains.
Those who stumble across the Giant Trace typically believe it to be a migration path for the mountain sheep, which it is, and some believe it to be a Troll path, which is also true. Its original builders, however, are the Stone Giants of the Misty and White Mountains. For
long ages, they’ve used it to travel between their scattered families and communities in the different mountain ranges, far above the elevations where the smaller folk of the world walk. The Stone and Hill Trolls also follow the Trace, although they stay clear of the Giants; a mutual truce has served both races for untold years.
The Giant Trace lies on the edge of Eriador, but it serves three groups who need to pass in and out of the country with a minimum of fuss. The first is the Ents, who still occasionally visit the forests of the North and who are too conspicuous to walk comfortably across the lowlands. The second is the Elves, who use the Trace when Men are turned against them in Eriador, especially in Rhudaur and Dunland, or when the land is so flooded with Orcs that they cannot use their usual
trick of traveling by night to avoid encounters. The third group is the Rangers of the North, who periodically deal with invasions, wars, and racial vendettas without the benefits of Elvish stealth or an Entish stride. The Trace is slow and difficult for Men, and not easy for Elves. It was made by large, fairly clumsy creatures, but a smaller hiker with good trail sense and
endurance enough to handle the altitude can still make respectable time on it.