With my hands warmer, and with a pretty good thirst worked up an hour or so later, I came back to that section of trail. My bottle had disappeared. Did I forget where I had left it? Did some other thirsty runner pick it up? Did the trail patrol throw it in the trash? I didn't figure there was any way I had missed it, so detoured by the visitor center near the parking area and found it perched on the donation box.
The bottle and I were happily reunited, but it made me wonder about bottle etiquette.
|Litter. Throw it away.|
If I find a personal item like car keys or a wallet by the side of the trail, I think the best thing to do would be to take it back to the trail head. Surely someone wouldn't leave something like that out on the trail intentionally.
|Not litter. Leave it there.|
But a nearly full, non-disposable bottle, with ice still in it, in a hand-held carrier? I would not think someone dropped it and didn't notice. I would not think that someone tossed it as trash. The only reasonable explanation would seem to be that someone left it there intending to come back for it. I detest trail litter as much as the next guy, but when something is clearly not litter, I leave it alone.
Am I right or am I wrong? What do you think?