Now their night begins. We trace a slow, counterclockwise path around the edge of the compound that guards the entrance to the Eurotunnel, crossing eight-lane highways and scrambling through ditches. Cold rain comes and goes. Initially, we encounter other groups of three to five refugees on the road every few minutes. As they pass they give updates on their attempts, with "no chance" or "good." Tonight, it's mostly "no chance." After an hour of walking south, stopping periodically to look for gaps in police surveillance, we're on our own. We cut through a large mall complex and emerge on the edge of a steep hill, in the shadow of a boxy office building.

There's the entrance to the tunnel.

Ahmad and I head toward the first set of fences. This is a rare spot where we can't see any police vans. But as soon as we approach the fence, a car hiding in the darkness flashes its lights once, twice. It's a strange standoff. There's nothing they can do from the other side of the barriers, but it's a warning that we're being watched. No one is getting through tonight.

Around 4 a.m., the three of them decide to give up. They've had three close encounters with French cops — two of them nearly violent — and the third, a stop and frisk procedure, could have been catastrophic if the officers had discovered the wire cutters in the right sleeve of Ahmad's hoodie.

By the time we part ways, halfway back to the Jungle, I am exhausted and can't imagine ever doing this again. They do it four times a week. The sheer force of will required seems psychologically draining in a way I can't quite comprehend. This is the tiniest leg of their journey so far, and yet these last 38 kilometers separating them from England have taken them more time than it did to escape Daesh-controlled Syria and cover the 3,000 kilometers from Turkey to France.

The next afternoon, I stop by their tent. Ali makes me a cup of sweet tea and Muhammad portions out the bread and instant noodles they're eating for lunch. They discuss their plans for that night — they'll try going to the port this time. Ahmad doesn't have a plan beyond getting to Britain, but that won't stop him from going.

Ahmad pulls out his phone and puts on some music.

He sings.