By Gary Boyd, FAHRA, FACHE
A Lost Friend
I live in the mountains. I started hiking
and climbing at 18 years old when my
friends and I climbed Mount Ritter, a
13,000 foot elevation. Later, my friend
climbed two mountains the same day
and climbed four or five mountains during that summer. Soon thereafter college, x-ray school, marriage, and children
almost eliminated my climbing.
At my first chief technologist job I met
John, a radiologist at the hospital. After a
few months we found we both liked hiking and planned a trip for the summer.
We organized four other people at the
hospital, three other physicians and a
manger. We planned a week long trip in
the wilderness and bought the food and
necessary equipment. We were ready for
One of the physicians, a urologist, was
worried about a week on the trail. His
name was Albert and he caused a little
trouble. For example, he ordered a KUB
and cut the film on the pubic bone and
he complained. He was correct, but he
was frequently in my office with one
thing or another to complain about.
We went on the trip, though, and had
a great time. Everyone chipped in with all
the work, food, and input. Albert turned
around to be a leader, both in the mental
and physical aspects. He carried a heavy
backpack, led on the trail, prepared the
food, and hung the food in the trees away
from the bears. The trip turned out great
and became an annual event for many
One year we arranged a trip from Lake
Edison where a ferry carried us across the
lake to our starting point. Albert carried
his usual heavy backpack and new cam-
We spent all week hiking, climbing
mountains, and fishing. At the end of the
week, Albert led down the trail, maybe 8
miles, to the ferry. It was about halfway
to the lake and Albert slowed down and
claimed he felt tired. I took his camera
and some of the equipment from his
backpack and we finally reached the
ferry. Once on the boat Albert said he
was feeling good, but he was acting odd.
About a month later Albert was pre-
paring for surgery and had a seizure.
John, the radiologist, did a CT scan and
found a tumor in his brain. A team eval-
uated the tumor and there was nothing
they could do. He was given a year or
so to live. Obviously, he closed his prac-
tice, but one thing he requested from his
friends was to take one last backpacking
trip in the mountains. We all quickly
agreed and the trip was planned.
Four more friends were contacted
and were added to the hikers on the
trail. We planned for mules to carry the
equipment and a horse to carry Albert.
He practiced riding a horse prior to the
trip. We were ready, but Albert was fail-
ing. We talked to his family about cancel-
ling as we were afraid we would actually
kill him, but we were encouraged to go
ahead with the trip as planned. Our hik-
ing group gathered for our trip, includ-
ing Albert and we were off.
Albert fell off the horse once on the
trail, but I caught him and he was okay.
We hiked for two days and found a great
campsite. We set up the tent, started
pumping water, and cooked our food.
During the trip we were all glad Albert
was along and that we were able to spend
time with him, but were sad that we
would be losing a friend and hiking part-
ner. The week was spectacular. We rode the
horses and spent time talking with Albert.
We lost one of the hikers overnight, he had
gone fishing at another lake, but he was
found the next day. Strangers hiking in the
mountains heard about Albert and stopped
by to visit with him. All in all it was a great
trip for Albert and for all of us. At the end
of the trail Albert gave me a photo album
of our trips over the years. I said goodbye
and that was the last time I ever saw him.
When Albert got home, his wife who
is an RN, was shocked. He was dirty
and smelled, but he was very happy. He
spent three days in the hospital after he
got home from the trip. He died three
months later and I lost a friend.
Today, my friends are still hiking and
climbing, but much shorter trips are
planned! They like hiking for a day and
then going to a restaurant in the evening.
We talk about Albert often and remem-
ber the experiences and fun we had on
our trips, especially the last trip. My wife
said taking Albert on his last trip will get
me into heaven. Maybe so, and I’ll get to
see my lost friend.
Gary Boyd is CEO of Mammoth Hospital in Mammoth
Lakes, CA, which is part of the Southern Mono
Healthcare District. Boyd holds a master’s degree in
public health from San Diego University. He has
served AHRA in many capacities, including editor-in-chief of Radiology Management. Boyd may be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.