I sneak off to have a shower while everyone else is eating. My cunning plan pays off and the water stays gloriously hot.
But my happiness is short lived; we’re going to spend the night in a room with six other people.
The beds are tiny. And there isn’t much space between each one. I wait until Jake goes to the bathroom. Then I pop a couple of caffeine pills.
My roommates appear normal enough. But that means nothing. The worst serial killers in history looked like the guy next door.
I slow down my breathing and pretend to be asleep.
They all fall asleep pretty quickly. And the room reverberates with a symphony of snoring. I put my iPod on and sit up. I’m not stupid. I may not be able to hear them coming towards me now. But I’ll certainly be able to see them.
I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. Then I realise that my heart is beating really fast. This makes me anxious; which makes my heart beat faster.
It occurs to me that perhaps I should have just taken the one pill. I don’t drink coffee or fizzy drinks. And I rarely eat chocolate.
Therefore my body isn’t used to caffeine. I check the packet. I now have 400mg of it swimming around my body.
I remind myself why I took them in the first place; to stay awake and stop people stealing my belongings/masturbating over my feet/murdering me.
There’s nothing I can do about it now but ride it out. I try to steady my breathing and get my heart rate to slow down.
Then I get an unsettling feeling of déjà vu; closely followed by a vivid flashback to the early nineties when I popped an ecstasy pill for the first (and last) time.
I didn’t realise it took around thirty minutes to kick in. So I’d actually forgotten I’d taken it until my heart suddenly felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.
Apparently that point when you think you’re going to have a heart attack is the best bit.
I spent the next twelve hours curled up in a ball muttering “don’t like it, don’t like it, don’t like it”.
And I don’t like this caffeine buzz much either.
I turn my iPod up to try and drown out the sound of my thumping heart. It works. I can't hear it anymore but I can still feel it. I start pacing up and down the room.
Then I lie down (curled up in a ball). Then I sit up. Then I pace.
I manically continue the same process for the next seven hours while everyone else sleeps soundly. I’m starting to think that there isn’t one thief, rapist or murderer amongst them.
Or it could be that my constant state of alertness has thwarted their plans. I decide to go with that otherwise I’ll have put myself through this for no good reason at all.
I’m still jittery at breakfast. Jake looks concerned “Did you manage to get any sleep?” I tell him I slept like a log. Then I realise that my hand is shaking. And I’m spilling tea everywhere.
I’m still buzzing so we make really good time on the ascent. Then we get hit by sleet. And I start coming down from my caffeine high.
The sleet turns into snow; lots of snow that settles really quickly.
There isn't any shelter so we have no choice but to continue our descent (from around 2000 metres).
We’re on steep, rocky terrain which is dangerously slippery. Did I mention this is my first proper hike? I’m absolutely terrified.
I also have a thumping headache and an overwhelming urge to just say “Fuck hypothermia” and find somewhere to lie down.
But I don’t really want to die. So I start to (very) slowly follow Jake down. I’m so relieved when it stops snowing.
Then it starts raining really heavily. The descent should take four hours. It takes me seven. And it rains heavily the whole time. I am completely soaked through.
There is absolutely no way I’m staying in a bloody tent tonight. I demand to stay in the first hotel I see.
We walk in and immediately create a huge puddle in the lobby.
The concierge tells us they’re fully booked. I know he’s lying from the way he’s looking down his nose at us. There’s no point arguing though. So I shake myself like a dog (in his direction) before we leave.
We try every hotel and refuge we see. Every single one is fully booked. It’s late in the day and the weather is so bad that anyone intending to camp has decamped to hotels and refuges.
I am cold, wet, hungry and tired. Somehow I’m managing to hold it together. But I can feel the mother of all tantrums coming on...