But the convenience store didn't have 1.5 liter water bottles, so I ended up getting two 1 liter water bottles and a 1 liter bottle of Coke which I'd use for water just as soon as I finished drinking the Coke. I'd have bottles coming out of my ears, but ultimately, I'd be able to carry 5.5 liters of liquid if needed.
I got the ride back to the trail, touching the stop sign I had touched before walking down to the convenience store. Even when I leave the trail on foot and expect to return on foot, I like to touch an object JUST in case I end up scoring a ride back. Usually, I walk back and don't even bother touching it again. After all, I never stopped walking since I touched it the first time.
This time, however, since I got a ride back to the trail, I touched the stop sign and continued north on Hwy 77 to the Porter Gap trailhead and, as far as I'm concerned, the southern terminus of the Pinhoti Trail.
My road walk was finally over.
There was one water source 3.5 miles up the trail, supposedly the last one for 30 miles, so I figured I'd try to camp near it, use it for breakfast, and stock up with 5.5 liters of water.
The trail was wonderful, even if it was odd. The Pinhoti Trail, my data book warned, used five different types of blazes along its length. Or six if you include the wilderness section not blazed at all because the USFS thought blazes would spoil the 'wilderness experience.' Which makes you wonder, why even provide a trail at all? Not exactly natural either, but it seems absurd to create a trail then not mark or blaze it encouraging hikers to get lost--especially at confusing trail intersections.
The trail, it was decided a few years back, would eventually be blue blazed the whole way since most of the trail already had blue blazes. Which in itself is a strange choice of color since everywhere else a blue blazed trail is ususally short (like less than a mile) that leads to a water source, shelter, or is a shortcut.
It's a strange trail, and the bizarre blazing system is proof of the fact.
The Porter Gap trailhead was marked with blue blazes and diamond shaped markers, painted white with a black chicken print on it. Why chicken footprints? I don't know. Just to prove how bizarre the trail really is, I suppose.
But it was a trail, and a wonderful trail at that. It climbed high on a mountain top, with a view of a beautiful sunset in the making, and I yelled, "Now THIS is what I'm talking about!" into the air. I was positively exubberant.
I reached Chandler Springs, a small community of houses and roads and not at all where I wanted to camp.
While filling up all of my water bottles from a stream passing by, a truck stopped on the bridge over it. The driver got out, unzipped his pants, and urinated into the water.
At least I was filling up with water upstream from the bridge. *shaking head*
He then threw a bottle off the bridge and drove off. The litter angered me more than the peeing did, and I decided to hike at least a couple of more miles until just before sunset.
Which I did, and set up camp on a soft layer of pine needles.
The last couple of nights, ants have become a quite annoying. I check basic things when setting up a tarp such as not to set one up on an anthill, but if you look closely at the ground, you can see thousands of them absolutely everywhere. Without a safe place for the, I set up camp where it's most convenient, but I flick dozens of them off my gear every 15 minutes or so.
I know it probably doesn't do any good since dozens more come to take their place, and another several dozen seem to come by to pick up the carcasses of ants I killed. I'm not sure what they do when I go to sleep at night, but I imagine them crawling over my face or through my hair and, well, I tend to scratch a lot. Probably nothing more than an overactive imagination, but the next morning, I'll wake up and spend the first ten minutes flicking what seems like hundreds of ants of my gear.
Quite the problem they've become, and I'm not sure there's anything I can do to protect myself against their onslaught except carry a fully enclosed tent.
I set up the tarp particularly steady this night. The last weather report I heard predicted isolated thunderstorms the next day, and if it started raining overnight, I wanted to be prepared.