“Yes,” the hiker agreed, “This is very good water, I’ve only once tasted better, in fact it was somewhere up in these hills.”
The man was of an indeterminable age and very fit; I had the feeling he could hike all day without stopping but he sat with me where I rested by the stream and told me about a remarkable experience.
“I was certainly lost, thirsty and exhausted from clambering up and down steep ravines, when finally I came upon a flat wooded area and at its center was a fountain of sorts, smooth limestone in the shape of a nautilus such that water spiraled up and spilled out the top in the center, a continuous flow though it seemed to defy gravity.
“I cupped my hands and drank the sweetest, purest water you can imagine before resting with my head against the fountain, quickly succumbing to sleep. When I awakened there was no fountain, no water, and though the path out became clear from that vantage point, I have never been able to find that spot again in subsequent hikes.”
He shook his head as if in wonder of his own story, and when I suggested maybe it had been a dream, he said at first he thought so too, but that it’s been over two hundred years since he drank from that fountain.