Barrel Springs (above)
The infamous "lead cache"
Cache at the third gate
I awoke in the morning feeling completely refreshed. When I used to work as a wilderness instructor in the mountains of North Carolina, one of my co-workers who knew a lot about Cherokee history told me once that the Indians there believed that your dreams would come out of the ground. Without fail, every week I went on shift, my dreams became extremely vivid whenever I slept on the ground in the woods in Cherokee country. Sleeping near Eagle Rock was another such night. I had vivid, relaxing dreams all night, and wondered if the rock had any spiritual significance back in the day.
Once again, water became an issue throughout the day. When I arrived at Barrel Springs in the morning, there were signs in several places describing how the water had been contaminated by dead mice last year. Several hikers became very sick. The status this year was uncertain for me, and although the water looked very refreshing, I decided to skip it and gamble on the third gate cache. My water report indicated there was water there (about 11 miles away), but any hiker will tell you that it's never a good idea to rely on these caches. I opted to take the risk to avoid getting sick at Barrel Springs.
Thankfully, (I can't describe what a relief it is sometimes) there was water at the third gate. I felt like I had survived the next small stretch of trail and would have enough water before reaching highway S2. In the desert, that's what it was like for me. Just hike and survive until you reach the next water source.
Shortly after getting water, I was horrified to cross paths with my first tarantula. It came as a complete surprise and I never got used to seeing them. "Oh God!!!" was usually my response, followed by a shudder. After seeing my first one, I faintly recall Indie telling me a story of seeing one in the same area many months ago. There was another couple we met on the trail in June that refused to sleep under the stars after seeing one. It felt like a lifetime ago, having those trail conversations. Anyways, the day ended with a fabulous campsite a few hundred feet off the trail on top of a small ridge. These always seemed to be my favorite sights, despite not having the best wind protection. I always enjoy a good sunset and sunrise in the morning...