The fair Nello and I have just caught up with fellow trekkers and reminisced about our adventures in Sikkim - already 3 months past!! How quickly, time steals away under the guise of a multitude of small and seemingly essential tasks. One of these had not been to write this epilogue, so it is time to correct that.

Our Himalayan adventure in reality started 18 months ago in a backpackers on the west coast of New Zealand. We were sharing a meal with a newly arrived European couple and telling them about our recent tramps in the Southern Alps. Ho ho, they said, tramping in New Zealand is nothing compared with trekking the Himalayas. Well, we had come to the opinion that tramping in NewZealand was pretty good, so if the Himalayas were really so much better ........... the seed was sown and the rest is described in the previous pages.

One of the novelties of our Himalayan adventure was that we had never been "trekking" before. Till this trip, we had always operated independently, just the two of us or a few friends, all our needs carried in the packs on our own backs. We had never walked with a group of "strangers" nor had others to transport our food and equipment. I confess to some trepidation that we might meet up with people with whom we were not particularly compatible - I have heard the odd horror stories in that vein. Fortunately, though our experience in Sikkim was to the contrary - on all three treks our guides and sherpas were all extremely friendly, knowledgable and induced an air of confidence in us all. Importantly our fellow trekkers were all congenial, easy-going and shared a similar sense of humour and ability to laugh off the occasional adversity. From the personal and social perspective, we had a great time.

The planning of the three treks was also perfect - for which thanks are due to Mohan, Sheila and their Trekking Company - each trek a little higher, each trek a little deeper into the Himalayan chain. Our first trek to the Singalila Ridge was the perfect introduction to the Himalayan foothills (though at over 3500m these are foothills on steroids), a chance to get to know the flora of these mountains to and to glimpse the culture of their inhabitants, to experience the extremes of mountain weather and to gently introduce us to higher altitude walking. The glimpses from the ridge of the Kangchenjunga massif were there to entice us to our second trek - a much closer look at these massive peaks, renewing our experience of the rich Himalayan forest before taking us to the land above the tree-line; alpine meadows, glacial valleys and towering snow-clad peaks. For a bonus we had a day of snow to round off the fine sunny conditions - two completely different Himalayas in one trek! Finally, the piece-de-resistance, the Green Lake Trek, right into the heart of Kangchenjunga in the Sikkimese wilderness - a place less visited than the summit of Everest!

But were our European friends right? Yes ... and no. Without doubt to be in the Himalayas amongst 6-, 7- and 8,000m peaks is an awe-inspiring experience. The immensity and grandeur of this landscape is breathtaking, both poetically and literally. There are few places where the average walker can go where breathing becomes a challenge; a constant reminder of our own fragility at high altitudes and an essential part of the Himalayan experience. However, to compare these mountains with the Alps of New Zealand, or the Americas does an injustice to both parties. The Himalayas do not need comparison - they are simply magnificent. Nor do the other alpine regions need to be down-rated, they are all superb in their own right. The scale may be different, but the sense of awe inspired by high peaks is not diminished by looking up at 3500m peak from a 1000m vantage point rather than looking up at an 8000m peak from a 5000m vantage point.

So if you can't go trekking in the Himalayas, go tramping in the New Zealand Alps, hiking in the Rockies or "faire un balade" in the Alpes des Provence - you will not be disappointed. The high mountains are truly Nature's Temple.