When I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, I immediately planned a “practice week”; a week in which I would not only walk several consecutive days but also practice with my gear. That week was last week. This is the second part of the blog post about my practice week, read the first part here.

The sun had set. I had made myself some dinner that I partially had to slurp out of the holes of my foam pad, as I dropped it there in a hurry to shove it in my mouth (I was really hungry). It was time for a shower. At this stage, it was so cold that I figured a hot shower would be the only way to get myself warm before hopping into bed. Undressed and ready to face the water, I was stoked to see the timer on six minutes. Six whole minutes of showering! And then I turned it on. The water was a lukewarm. Just enough to make you think you are not showering with cold water, but miles away from an actual hot shower. Not a great start of the night. When walking back to my tent, my body remained cold and, in addition, my mood was crap.

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Installing myself in my sleeping bag, I suddenly notice a flashlight shining on my tent. After Rennon, I had only spotted two more guests entering the terrain and since they all camped a lot further from where my tent was, I freaked out a little. “Asleep yet?” It was Rennon. Sigh of relief. “Nah. Not yet. But I’m sort of in bed already.” “We are having a campfire, want to join?” “Nah. I want to get up early tomorrow and I’m pretty tired, so I’ll have an early night.” “Alright.” Truth was. I was so cold, I did not even want to go outside. The only thing I wanted was to get warm.

And I can tell you. I did not get warm. My feet were tucked into my backpack, my mat was folded so that my upper body was furthest from the ground and my water bottle was filled up with hot water to warm my feet. With every movement, I rearranged my sleeping bag and my liner, put my hat back on and wrapped my fleece around my head to seal the opening of my sleeping bag. Around 1 AM, in between tears, cursing and falling asleep for no longer then twenty minutes at the time, I remembered the existence of my emergency blanket. My mind screamed: this is the emergency! I took the neatly folded blanket out of the package and draped it over my sleeping bag. A couple of minutes later, it felt like heaven: I was getting warm again.

With everything that seemed to go right in the beginning, this highlight also did not last very long. Between the sleeping bag and the emergency blanket formed a layer of condense which dampened my sleeping bag and, in turn, made me even colder. Attempts to unfold my stiff body to dry the top of the sleeping bag with my (now completely frozen) towel were merely symbolical, as I already knew that the feeling of being cold would not stop – wet sleeping bag or not.

Throughout the night the temperature dropped to -5. It was the longest night of my life.

Final part will be published on Sunday!