Climbing Mt Evans, Colorado
Was it the terror, or the sub-zero temperature, that tightened my grip on the steering wheel? Either way, there was no letting go. My driving was the closest to tiptoeing that a vehicle would ever be. A slight miscalculation - too much pressure on the accelerator here, a failure to notice the patch of ice on the road there - and I would be rolling down the sheer cliff to my left.
Seven miles to go. The longest seven miles of my life.
And when I finally did arrive at Summit Lake, where I would camp overnight and hike to the peak of Mt Evans before sunrise, a tempest began to roll in. Of course. I slept in my car instead.
You know those dreams where reality is slowly incorporated into the dream, until you gradually wake up and realise your mind was responding to your surroundings? I dreamt I was on a boat, drifting, rocking side to side, rolling gently with the wind, my car, my car is rocking, MY CAR IS ROCKING VIOLENTLY.
It was 1am. The wind was so strong it was threatening to roll my car. But that became the least of my worries when my sight was assaulted by lightning that couldn't have struck further than a few dozen metres away. I was blinded for a few seconds and realised I couldn't perceive any gap between the lightning and the thunder. I was stuck in a metal cage, on one of Colorado's highest mountains, in the middle of the angriest lightning storm I'd ever seen.
Fear assumed control. Put something rubber on, it said. I found thick hiking boots and shoved them on my feet. Drive towards something, anything slightly taller than you, it said. I was out in the open, above the treeline, but I saw a toilet hut and parked next to it. I spent the next few hours desperately counting the seconds between lightning clap and thunder boom - when there was any distance between them at all.
By 5am, the sky had no wrath left in it, and I looked to my left. On the hut was a sign of guidelines for the national park. Under 'Lightning' was the advice: "One of the safest places you can be is inside your vehicle."
Fear makes you an idiot. Go, do. Climb that mountain.