It only takes two trips to be a TNAB veteran. Henry took his first metaphorical step toward vet status for the end-of-the-season BBQ on Rattlesnake Ledge. Tokul, Henry, and I were part of the massive train up the short trail in the clouds. The nice weather of the previous week finally started breaking down just in time for this hike and a chilly mist was blowing in from the south.
At the top I set up "camp" with the two tons of gear I had brought to support Henry. I doubled his insulation and warmed his milk while he made googly eyes at anyone who would look at him. While he ate we talked with a bunch of folks.
Unfortunately, as soon as he was done and I was half way through my sandwich (I didn't expect to be there long enough to take advantage of the grill that was hauled up the hill) he started wailing. A fellow TNAB hiker, Magellan, held him while I put everything away and after a couple of bright flashes in the twilight to document our presence we headed down.
Unfortunately, one of the people I was talking with told me of cougar sightings on a nearby trail so while I walked down the hill alone and in the dark I was sure I was being stalked. Yes, I know Tokul probably would have at least figured something was nearby and taken off, but that didn't help in the spooky woods. Thankfully, Henry spent the trip down tightly holding my finger so I felt better than if I had been truly alone. Hopefully, he'll still be as willing to hold my hand on future hikes.
It's nothing new, but... four miles and 1,200 feet of gain.