Friends made in Nepal
Matt and Andrew
Matt is wanted on several counts of unanswered e-mail.  If you see him anywhere, take him straightaway to the nearest internet terminal and have him e-mail me immediately!
Matt and I met while trekking the Annapurna circuit (a 22 day hike).  He's a European who snuck into Canada and got citizenship back in the day when it was easier.  To support his travels, he builds jewelry boxes in Hawaii which sell for a few grand.  He's also a Hari Krishna as you may be able to tell from the colour of his clothing (that colour is considered more spiritual).  The lower picture (right) was the beginning of one of the loneliest times of my life.  I loved trekking, but I didn't find it easy making new friends all of the time to travel with so after he left that day I didn't know what I was going to do.
This was the day after I almost stranded myself in the Himalayas because I was too proud to turn back.  Luckily I made my own way down the mountain without hitting a dead end/cliff.  Matt and Andrew (the fellow on my left) could
speak the same language.  They actually met in Katmandu before the trek.  Matt did the full circuit, but Andrew only did the last week of the circuit backwards (he did the Muktinath pilgrimmage).  Interestingly, Andrew finished his trek just as Matt arrived in town.  Andrew is also a Hari Krishna, though he is a little more serious as you may be able to tell because he is wearing a sort of skirt like the monks.  I'm hoping maybe I'll be able to catch up with Andrew while I'm in Turkey.  I learned a lot about Eastern philosophy sitting with him in the hotsprings.  The girl is an American who was studying the effects of high altitude on the trekkers.  I'm sticking my lip out in the picture because we got booted from our rooms due to a larger group's reservation.  The picture on the right holds the four fastest trekkers in the Himalayas at that time.  The fellow on the left was Swiss.  He was the first person I encountered on the trail trekking faster than me.  The fellow on the right was from Japan, and he was just as fast as the Swiss.  What I discovered was that they went slow and steady rather than fast with more stops like what I was doing.  Once I copied their style, I was able to keep up and I was reminded of a good life lesson.  In computer science we call it the greedy algorithm.  There's also a great Chinese story along these lines:
 
There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer's neighbours sympathised with the old man over his misfortune, the farmer replied, 'Misfortune? Good fortune? Who knows?'

A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good fortune. His reply was, 'Good fortune? Misfortune? Who knows?'

Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad misfortune. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, 'Misfortune? Good fortune? Who knows?'

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good fortune? Misfortune? Who knows?

The story continues, but I think you get the idea.  It's a bit like those life stories where people keep failing but they keep trying and then in the end they succeed.  That's one of the hopes for my life.  I did the trek to Everest basecamp after this trek, but I destroyed the $5 camera I'd used on the Annapurna circuit in between the two so I don't have any pictures of that trek.