Labor Day weekend was fast approaching, and Indy wanted to take another adventure up to the Adirondacks. He also wanted to bring Bri, The Short Italian (TSI), to show her a new place to climb. Discussing the potentials of the weekend, they arranged to have the tuesday after Labor Day off so as to avoid the hideous traffic jams on I-87 South on Labor Day itself (Indy experienced that last year! taking 1-1/2 hours to travel 40 miles on a high-speed highway plus additional slowdowns is not what Indy wanted to experience again). Plans made, the two packed and midday on friday Sept 3rd, headed North.
Prior to the trip Indy contacted a climbing friend of his up in New York, Andy Hall. They met last year during Indy's second visit to the 'Daks, on Chapel Pond Slab. Indy told Andy that he was heading back to the 'Daks again this Labor Day. Happily, Andy said he was going to be in the vicinity, too. Excellent! They hadn't hooked up in nearly a year. This could be a fun reunion.
Indy also did some last-minute research on the Net because he and TSI were interested in finding a way to get to Roger's Rock on Lake George to do the 500-600' route Little Finger (5.5*). He tracked down someone named JClimbs who seemed to have reasonably extensive pages on not only 'Daks climbing, but other activities up there. Unfortunately, many of the pages were still under construction, notably the page Indy was most interested in: the kayaking/canoeing page. You see, the easiest way to get to Roger's Rock is via a 15-20 minute canoe paddle. The overland route is...well, more of epic than adventure. Faster, more fun, more enjoyable to canoe. Anyway...
Indy contacted JClimbs to find out if he knew of canoe outfitters who would rent a canoe to Indy (and be able to supply some sort of car carrying system for his car). JClimbs responded a few hours later. Yes, in fact, there was a place he recommended: Beaver Brook Outfitters in Wevertown (at the junction of Rts 8 & 28). Indy called them up and quickly made arrangements to pick up a canoe saturday afternoon/evening before they closed, and would have it back to them by COB on sunday. So it was set: Indy and Bri would take on Roger's Rock/Little Finger on sunday, and Chapel Pond Slabs and Washbowl Cliffs on saturday. Monday the primary plan was to do the 14+ mile hike to the highest point in New York: Mt Marcy. Barring that, more climbing or maybe do one of the slide climbs (Indy has forgotten the pain and grueling torture of doing one from the first time he was at the 'Daks)
On the road the duo found themselves at the High Peaks Basecamp in Upper Jay. Indy's camped there during his trips last year. It's a great camp ground with hot showers and running water. Indy was surprised that for a nice holiday weekend the campground was virtually empty. It was nigh 11:00pm, and there weren't very many people around. The two quickly set up camp and retired for the evening (Indy found a delapidated picnic table and half bench for them to use during the weekend while Bri visited the camp's luxurious bathrooms; all the good picnic tables and benches had already been snagged by the other campers in the area).
After a v-e-r-y slow start the next morning (partly from sleeping in - Indy was very much in need of some sleep!) , the two adventurers finally got underway. On the drive to Chapel Pond, as they approached Keene Valley, the noticed a column of smoke coming from behind one of the lower mountains. Indy figured that someone was burning something, much like you'd see in the rural areas of Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia.
Indy was afraid that due to their late start they wouldn't find any parking at the Chapel Pond Slab area (last year the place was packed), and he also was afraid that no matter their plans they were going to be waiting in line a while. Also, since they were getting a late start, and since they needed to be on the road to pick up the canoe by 5pm, there was no way they could climb both at Washbowl and Chapel Pond Slab. Resigning to just getting one climb in, Indy decided to try going to Chapel Pond Slab, to get as much climbing in as possible (Chapel Pond Slab is 700' tall, after all, whereas Washbowl Cliff is 'only' 350' tall).
They arrived at the Chapel Pond area and...found parking! Not a lot of parking, to be sure, but plenty enough. It was less crowded this year as compared to last. Great! They quickly parked, got geared up, and did the short hike up the road to the path which led them to the base of Chapel Pond Slabs.
Indy had in mind to take on Regular Route, a 700' 5.5 route that goes up the right side of the Slab. He'd been on the Slab twice before last year: the first time to do Empress (5.5*) and the second time to take on Greensleeves (5.6*), a variant to Empress. This time he wanted to do a new route, and Regular Route fit the bill as something fun, reasonably moderate but not too hard, and long.
When they got to the base of the rock, they found...a ton of people climbing, and another party roped up but waiting. Indy and Bri quickly ascertained that everyone in the world was doing Regular Route. It seemed that there were nearly 7 parties strung up and down the route, including the couple who were at the base waiting their turn. Oh man...bummer! If Indy and Bri were going to climb Regular Route, they had a serious wait in front of them - for the rest of the day! Indy scanned around and made a very important observation: the rest of Chapel Pond Slab was void of climbers! This meant that, save doing the route which seemed to have more people per pitch than I-95 has cars between Washington DC and Baltimore, the dynamic duo basically had their choice of routes to take. Bri suggested doing Victoria, a 5.7 climb that shares the first few hundred feet with Empress. Indy thought about it for a moment (the route description said this was rarely climbed because it was almost always wet), and because things had been so dry this summer...sure, what the heck! So they geared up, got the ropes flaked (Indy brought 2 ropes - one 11mm and one 10.5mm - for the four long slab rappels down from the top), and Indy started up the first pitch.
The climbing was very enjoyable. Clean rock, high-friction anorthosite (while not Rocky Mountain granite, it was just as good), sunny skies, great exposure, lack of people on the route...yeah, one couldn't ask for more...except for one party over on Regular Route who were using whistles, of all things, to communicate with each other on the climb. Way to shoot a semi-wilderness experience down, guys. This was a little disconcerting to Indy, as in his experience whistles are generally used as signaling devices for those in trouble, to bring help to them. The first few times the party used their whistles Indy was startled and for just a moment waited to hear if there was someone in serious trouble. Eventually it dawned on him what the other party was doing. Well, it could have been worse - they could have been using a bullhorn.
At the end of pitch 3, while sitting on a hummock (which is something hard to explain very easily; suffice it to say it's a type of rock erosion formation) Indy tried to figure out where the Victoria pitch went from there. He looked and looked but...it just wasn't readily obvious. Indy thought he saw which way he should go, but wasn't sure. When Bri climbed up and anchored in, he started the next pitch.
Pitch 4 of Empress is a practically totally unprotectable run-out friction climb of high quality. A leader will climb nearly 120' or more before they can find a crack in which to stick gear. Indy had been on this pitch twice before last year, and each time was happy when he got to the cracks. This time Indy was looking off to his right, trying to find which way he was supposed to go. He thought he saw one way that had some potential...but he wasn't comfortable with the committing friction moves to get over to it. And protection there looked....well, sparse, too. In the end as Indy climbed up and kept looking right, he ended up finishing pitch 4 of Empress. Alas, oh well! Indy figured that now they were committed to either finishing Empress or cutting over and doing Greensleeves. Indy looked at the short offwidth in the vertical section of the next pitch of Empress as he belayed Bri up to him and decided he had zero gear to protect it. He discussed the options with Bri, then they decided to do Greensleeves. Behind Indy and Bri 4 or 5 other parties had arrived and were climbing up the rock. Unlike the earlier parties who were climbing before Indy and Bri arrived, these folks spread themselves out onto different routes, which meant some of them were now following Indy and Bri. Indy was little worried; he knew he could climb this rock fast if need be.
Greensleeves is, as had been mentioned earlier, a 2- to 3-pitch variant of Empress (Indy is still trying to figure out when a climb becomes a 'variant' here, and when it is a seperate climb by itself). It makes a delicate 5.6 frictiony traverse right from the end of Empress pitch 4, reaches a corner/crack system, then follows that up for 2-1/2 pitches. The belays are more semi-hanging than comfortable seats. But pro is wonderful, as the crack accepts all large and medium pieces available. The route itself is fairly straightforward (after all, how do you get lost or off-route following a crack??), relatively easy climbing punctuated by moments of 5.6-ness. It really is a nice climb.
Once they were done with the route Indy led Bri over to the rap stations he had been shown last Labor Day weekend. He had brought extra webbing and some rap rings in the event that someone decided these rap stations were an eyesore, but to his surprise, all the rap stations turned out to have been reinforced many times over with more webbing and heavy-duty rap rings. Excellent! Indy set up the raps, pushed the ropes down the slabs and went down first, looking for the next rap station. Indy, having been shown these stations by the guy who first established them last year, had a vague idea where he had to go, which is why he went first. It took the two of them about an hour to rap down all the way, then finish on the scramble. The biggest time-consumer of the rap was getting the ropes down the rock. Easier to rap down vertical stuff; trust me on this.
After they were down they coiled the ropes, dashed to the car, stowed gear, and headed to Weverton to pick up the canoe. They got down there a little more than 45 minutes later. The canoe was waiting for them already. The guy at the shop quickly got out the paddles, life jackets, and styrofoam protection blocks to mount the canoe on the roof of the car. A quick scan around the store showed that they catered mainly to water enthusiasts (canoists, fishing-types), but they did have a smattering of other stuff, too. In fact, Bri had been looking for a good pair of boots for caving. The shop here had a pair of Hi-Tech Doo-Rangos on sale for $40. She didn't pick them up, but they did get her thinking!
On the way home Indy decided to drive by Lake George to scout out exactly where they had to go come the morrow so they wouldn't waste any time in the morning trying to find things (Indy had been warned by JClimbs to get an early start because the route Indy and Bri were wanting to do was very popular). They scouted around a bit, asked various people (from the three people in the gatehouse at Roger's Rock Campground who turned out to know next to nothing about Roger's Rock itself, to people they met at the boat launch and picnic area). After about 40 minutes of asking, scouting, and re-re-re-reading the rather non-detailed description in the guidebook, Indy and Bri finally decided they had things pegged. Roger's Rock was out of sight, a ~15-20 minute canoe paddle north of the campground/boat launching area, past a small island. This was good, because at first Indy thought they had to canoe across the lake to a bare-looking area on the other side. Satisfied they had all the information they were going to get tonite, they departed, and spent an hour and a half heading back to camp. There, tired, they ate a short meal then went to bed. Sleep came quickly.
Bright and early the next morning the two rose, ate a quick breakfast, and dashed off. The smoke column behind the lower mountain east of Keene Valley was still there. The trip to Lake George took longer than Indy had originally estimated, and instead of getting to the Roger's Rock Campground by 7:30am, it was shortly after 8:00am when they arrived. They had stopped briefly for gas (prices in Maryland were $1.19/gal at this time; up here in the 'Daks, $1.35!), where Indy saw on the local newspaper a front-page article entitled "Dennis Strengthens, Turns Towards Land.". He and Bri had also heard that today's weather was to be partly cloudy, and weather come the morrow was to be cloudy with scattered showers. Great, monday could be a wash by midday, if Hurricane/Tropical Storm Dennis came up their way. Well...worry about that tomorrow. Today they were going to Roger's Rock!
They arrived and prepped the canoe for travel. Indy changed to a swim suit (for some insane reason he decided that climbing in a swimsuit rather than shorts would allow him to dive into the water immediately upon completion of the climb, and not wait to change; this proved to be a little uncomfortable when he geared up and started climbing, but he quickly forgot about it). Bri followed his lead in this, wearing her swim suit under her lycra and t-shirt. After the car was parked, the canoe was launched, and away they paddled!
The waters this morning were relatively calm. Few boats were out, a few swimmers along shore were splashing around. High hazy clouds cut the intense brightness of the sun, but the skies didn't threaten to overcast. 10 minutes later Indy and Bri caught sight of the Roger's Rock slab. It soared up from the water nearly 700'. Indy and Bri hung out a couple hundred feet away from the rock and studied its features, looking for the route Little Finger, seeking out the areas where the supposed rap stations were to be, and trying to find a place to safely beach the canoe while they were climbing. They found a nice spot at the southern end of the slab. With perfect access there, they quickly disembarked, got their gear on land, then pulled the canoe onshore so it wouldn't be battered about by waves from the boats that would no doubt be filling the lake in a few hours. The sun had brightened as the clouds thinned, and the air was warm. Bri and Indy scouted around, looking for a likely path to work their way over to the base of Little Finger. This didn't take too long.
Little Finger is an aptly named route: a crack that splits the face of a huge slab that most of the time was fingers-only to climb. Since this was a slab, one didn't always have to jam one's foot into the crack. Rather, the outer parts of the crack were often wide enough to accept feet comfortably. Or there would be features on the wall on either side of the crack where good footwork made the climbing easier. Hands and fingers generally stayed in the crack. Indy found this a comfortable route. Never pushing the edge, it had plenty of spots in which to place pro. Like on Chapel Pond, Indy brought two ropes with him. One he led on, the other he trailed (or, in this case, more or less dragged up the rock with him). The first belay was about 120 or so feet up. Indy decided it was a belay from the fixed piece (a 'melted' red tri-cam), a bolt, and a piton were all linked together by a half dozen loops of webbing. It was a semi-hanging belay; there wasn't anywhere to really sit comfortably. Indy quickly put Bri on belay and she scampered up. When she arrived at the belay, she looked less than happy. Between having to bring up the pack on a slab (the pack was a little big for her frame), and now having to deal with a semi-hanging belay.....Indy looked up and figured that there might be a better spot about 50' higher, so once Bri was set and ready, he fired up the next pitch.
The spot Indy thought would be a nicer belay turned out not to be much of anything at all. But up above another 30' or so looked like a likely spot. So he tried that one. Same result. He looked up, saw another spot 50' or so higher and went for it. Nope. Same deal. Higher up about 50 or so feet it looked like there were some stepped ledges. If Indy could find places to put gear, that might make for a good belay station. He went onward.
A few minutes later Indy achieved the stepped-ledge system. Complete with a few cracks, this made for an ideal spot to rest and belay. Below him Indy could see boaters had gathered to watch his and Bri's progress up the wall. He saw some with binoculars, some with cameras. Some were just hanging out, people laying or sitting in their boats just watching without any optical aid. Bri began climbing. The boaters watched with great anticipation. Indy waved back.
Soon Bri reached the belay, and looked a lot happier. No semi-hanging belay was this! They could sit, so they did for a while, taking in the panoramic view of the lake as it spread below them. They weren't even halfway up the rock at this point, but the view was great. Off a thousand feet or so from the base of the rock on the lake was a giant tour boat, chugging its way up the lake. Indy and Bri would see people lining the railings on all the decks. Indy caught brief snatches of a tour guide's voice on a loudspeaker drifting up to them on the wind. Indy and Bri figured that the tourists on the boat were probably thinking that they (Indy and Bri) were up on the rocks for their (the tourists) benefit and entertainment. With this in mind, Indy and Bri waved vigorously. The tour boat swung around and came within a few hundred feet of the rock before heading back south down the lake. It was time to climb again.
Indy reracked the gear, and started up. He followed the crack straight for an overhang above, then cut right, stepping around the 'hang and continuing up the crack on steeper but still clean rock. The rope drag was getting a little fierce at this point (both from having turned two corners and having the rope dragging most of its length along on the rock). He stopped at one point, aware that he was climbing near the end of the length of the 60m rope. He called down to Bri, who was far below, asking how much rope was left. She reported about 9 meters. Indy looked up. He had spied a likely belay about 10' above him, but...hmmm, about 25' or so above him was a better-looking belay. If he had enough rope he ought to be able to make it. Bri then amended that he only had 7 meters of rope left. Urrrr, could be tight. Indy pressed on.
Indy managed to get to the higher belay stance. It proved to be comfortable. A place to put in some gear, a place to sit down comfortably, a place to brace oneself against any falls Bri might take (assuming she did, which Indy didn't think she would)...as Indy anchored in he realized he probably climbed right to the end of the rope, as he had very little slack left in the system. He rapidly put Bri on belay and when she was ready, she started climbing up.
This third pitch was by far the best on the route. Above Indy the route slacked off to 3rd class terrain, before reaching a short steep headwall to the top. Indy studied it a while and saw about 100' from where he was there was a rap station. Well, now, that's convenient! As far as Indy was concerned, they had basically done the climb. It was time to head down.
Bri finally reached Indy and commented how hot the rock was getting. Indy noticed it earlier, too. The sun was out, unobscured by clouds, beating on the rock. Indy and Bri discussed what to do next. Continue on the 3rd class rock and do the short headwall, or call it a climb and start heading down. It was midday and they still had to get down and get the canoe back to the outfitter before 5p that day. They opted to call it a day. Indy had Bri take the next 30' or so on 'lead' and she climbed up, anchoring in after about 50' at a decent tree. Indy quickly joined her. From there they traversed north about 30' to another rap station. There they quickly set up the rappels, and Indy went down first, looking for the next rap stations.
He found one further north but kinda far to the side after about 50' down. Hmmmm. Logic would dictate that there should be a rap station directly below the one he was rapping from, but below him was bare rock which folded into a steeper section where he could not see down. He was confident that his autoblock would hold if he got into too steep a section and found no rap stations so he could climb back up once again and traverse to the right for the other rap station he saw. Down he went, pushing the rope below him.
The steep section was fairly steep, but not overhanging. Unfortunately, it put him and Bri into a difficult communication situation, though Indy wasn't thinking about that as his eyes were drawn to a small copse of trees hidden by a small corner. Indy hoped that the ropes would reach the trees and that it was the next belay station. As Indy got within 50' he knew the ropes would reach. When he got within 15' he could see around the small corner and discovered the larger of the trees was the next rap station - woohoo! He quickly rapped over to it and anchored in. He called up to Bri...and called a few more times. No answer. Granted, Bri doesn't have the lungs of Indy, so if she responded Indy couldn't hear, but the ropes weren't moving in a manner consistent with someone either getting on rappel, or rappelling. Indy decided to wait a bit then called again. This time he got through (though he couldn't hear a return response), and the rope started moving as it should when someone is rapping down. Soon Bri joined Indy, and they set up the next rap.
A couple more uneventful raps got them back to the shelves at the base of the rock and they made their way over to the canoe for lunch and relaxation. There had been no on else on the rock at all except for two guys now climbing Little Finger Direct while Indy and Bri were rapping down. Indy and Bri weren't sure how they got there; no boat or beached canoe was evident. But no matter. They were down, it was hot, Indy wanted in the water. And he wanted food. Food first. Food rules.
While they were fussing around the canoe a motorboat came within about 50' of them, full of a family of 6. The guy driving the boat called out, "Hey! Were you the people up on the rocks this morning?"
"Yeah, that was us," responded Indy.
"Oh! We saw you!!" came the boater-dude's enthusiastic reply. Happy with this newfound knowledge, the boater took his family and went on their way. Indy and Bri had a quick lunch, then Indy went in the water, trying to convince Bri to show him how to swim like a fish. After much coaxing and cajoling on Indy's part, and procrastinating on Bri's part, she entered the water and became a fish (Indy will never be able to swim that good!).
After relaxing in the water, washing the sweat and grit from their bodies, they repacked the canoe and headed back. Indy tried to teach Bri some lessons in canoeing (Indy used to be certified to teach canoeing years and years ago; some lessons you just never forget, even if you hadn't done them in a while). Indy demonstrated how easy it was to steer a canoe using different paddling techniques.
Sadly they were soon back at the boat launch area and beached the canoe. They unpacked the gear, set out the wet stuff to dry, and loaded the canoe on the car. From there they dashed back to the outfitters, dropping off the canoe. Bri decided to spend the extra money and purchased the $40 clearance boots (wherein she and Indy learned that this weekend was tax-free for clothing by order of the New York governor). After that they took the long way around the High Peaks region, checking out the views along the way, stopping for ice cream, and getting back to came at dusk. Clouds were gathering at this point. Still the weather forecast said scattered rain by midday. The morning might be salvagable. After another quick dinner, the exhausted two adventurers retired for the evening. Sleeping soundly...
Indy woke up to something...wrong. His watch read 5:00am. He listened to the noises around camp...wind, mostly. No one else was up. But that wasn't what woke him. He lay there for a few minutes, concentrating, but...nothing. He started to drift back to sleep (the alarms on his watch were set for 5:50am) when he heard a faint pitterpatterpitterpatter noise...on the tent! Rain?? Noway! It got a little harder, and Indy came to full awareness. The car windows were down, with the wet clothes from their Lake George adventure drying on them. Ack!! Indy quickly got up and dashed out to the car to put the windows up. A light rain had started to fall. The sky was totally clouded over and threatening-looking. Gah. Guess a hike to Marcy wasn't going to happen. Indy retired back to the tent. The rain stopped shortly after that. But the clouds remained.
A couple hours later Indy and Bri emerged again. Most people who were in camp had either left, or were packing to go home. Indy and Bri still had another day, as they weren't going to return until the morrow. They ate a leisurely breakfast, then Bri went to take a shower. Indy packed up most of camp and studied the Adventurers Guide To The Adirondacks(tm) tome he picked up in some Ancient Library(tm) long ago to see what their alternate options were to be. Bri indicated she wanted to do some leading, to finally learn this stuff. Indy would like to have snagged another peak. Now, how to satisfy both? Why, Noonmark! Just outside of Keene Valley, Noonmark was the 86th highest peak in the Adirondacks. After a stiff 2 mile hike up to it's summit, one could find a half dozen easy/moderate routes up at the top. Hey, excellent. But if Bri didn't want to do that, Indy came up with an alternate plan: go to Spanky Wall just down from Chapel Pond. This wall boasted 3 or 4 decent-quality longish 5.3/5.4 routes that Bri could learn to lead on. Satisfied he had come up with two reasonable alternatives, Indy started bringing things over to the car.
After Indy had gotten everything except the breakfast dishes and the tent into a pile by the car, he heard...a steaming, hissing-type noise. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He didn't have to look in the direction of the noise to know that black clouds were in that direction, and that the rains were coming! Indy hurridly transferred the pile of gear at the back of the car into the car, getting the last bit in just as the wall of water slammed through camp. Indy was soaked before he could reach in and grab his raingear. He took heart in the fact that he had gotten everything packed except the tent and dishes. The dishes would wait. The tent was going to have to wait. Indy was willing to see if this shower would abate. So he grabbed Bri's rain jacket and the dirty dishes, and headed to the bath house. There he gave Bri her jacket and then went to do dishes. A couple of teens were there doing their family dishes, so Indy waited and watched it rain...and saw one of the largest spiders he'd seen in a long time flash across the air under a plank to grab something which landed in its web. Indy went over to check out the spider. The colorful tan spider went to hide in it's little nest. Indy found a twig and gently poked it. The spider came out fighting. First jumping at Indy, then scuttling to the middle of its web where it would vibrate angrily. Indy watched in fascination, but then left it alone so he could do dishes. After that, back to the car.
The day at this point for climbing or hiking was pretty shot. The rain was still pouring down. Bri and Indy decided to make a leisurely drive back to Baltimore. Indy thought maybe they could stop in at the Gunks because Bri was interested in some of the chalkbags carried by Rock'N'Snow there. They packed the wet tent and headed out, stopping for a while at the Keene Valley outdoor store (The Mountaineer), where Indy learned that the pillar of smoke he'd been seeing was from a wildfire started earlier last week. He found this out because he saw a sign posted the day before that the trails to Noonmark and Dix were closed by order of the mayor of Keene Valley. The only people allowed up there were fire fighters who were frantically trying to put out the fire. While the rain would help, it had been so dry up there for so long that the fire wasn't easily going out. It was burning deep. Well, guess no Noonmark adventure, even if it did stop raining. Indy and Bri moved on and headed south.
The trip back wasn't too bad. Indy studied the map then found a way to get around Albany and the holiday-traffic-from-hell-jams on I-87. Skirting that the two made their way down to the Gunks, arriving by mid-afternoon. Shourtly after they cleared the Albany area they had sun most of the way down. In New Paltz they hung out in the climbing shop for a while (Bri found all kinds of bargain buys for her, as all women's clothing was 15% off - combined with no taxes made things cheap!), then Bri suggested they get a climb in before driving back "I'm really sick of being in the car. I want on rock. Now.". Indy nodded happily!
They went up to the Trapps and discussed what to do. At first they were going to go to the Near Trapps and finally take on Gelsa, a 3-pitch 5.4 route that Indy had been trying to take Bri up but weather always prevented it from happening. Now it looked like it wasn't going to happen again, as the rocks are all East-facing, the time was now 5:30p, and the sun would set before 7:30pm. This didn't leave much time to climb. Indy thought about it, then decided the fastest and best course of action would be to go to the Uberfall area, lead up Dirty Chimney (5.0), and set up a top-rope on Rhododendron (5.6*). Bri was agreeable; she just wanted to climb!
Dirty Chimney was pretty easy (it had damn well better be if it's rated 5.0!), but proved to be pretty damp. Rhododendron also proved to be still wet. Earlier in the morning the forerunning remnants of Dennis had plowed through the area, soaking everything for hours. It still hadn't dried out yet. Indy was glad he opted to top-rope Rhododendron instead of try leading it.
After the climbs it was getting dark. The sun had just set, so the two headed back to the car, ate a quick dinner, then drove back. THe mostly quiet drive turned into the dodging of heavy downpours as they drove through the heart of tropical storm Dennis. Returning to Baltimore by 1am they unpacked and crashed for the night.