The challenge of the climb

News | January 26, 2023

Clayton Lloyd and his wife Jan find themselves traveling a little more now in their years of semi-retirement, but it’s been a part of Clayton’s life since he was young. Now, he’s traveled to at least 15 national parks but it’s not just about the destination. Many of Clayton’s trips are about family, challenging yourself, and the setting. A setting we don’t see much around the Quad Cities: mountains!

Family trips
When Clayton was between four and five years old, he very distinctly remembers his family trip to The Great Smoky Mountains and his first trip that was a little different from family fishing trips.
“I remember going on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, I was sitting in the back of a Studebaker with my mom, dad, brother, and dad’s sister. It was something adventurous. My dad was from a family of fisherman so sometimes going to the mountains was secondary to a trip to Minnesota to go fishing. Sitting in the back of the car, with no air conditioning and my mom checking each motel before checking in. My brother and I sat in the back wondering: ‘Did we get a motel with a pool?’”

At that time, the Lloyd family trips consisted of journeying up Pike’s Peak to see the mountains and sitting down for a picnic lunch. Family trips would often have a family connection associated with them. The Lloyds would stop and visit family on the way to their destination.

The first trip Clayton and Jan took after settling in the Quad Cities had a similar feel to those family trips. It was a visit to Colorado, this time to see his older brother. They would stay in a condo partially owned by his brother and spend the rest of the time hiking. Once Clayton’s two sons were born, those family trips expanded to include the boys.

“When our sons came along, we started out day hiking. No backpacking or anything that adventurous. Colorado is where our strongest connections were. Often, trips were planned around family these connections.”

One place stands out clearly in Clayton’s mind. A location the family visited often.

“Summit County. It’s a national forest and the area where we’ve hiked most often. We go hiking and climbing around Silverthorne, Colorado. We went there often to see my brother, and we got to know the trails there. Then I started going with my sons, (St. Paul member Ben Lloyd) and my older son, Aaron, to do these familiar hikes again. With the boys, after we’d climb, we sat down and looked out to appreciate the landscape. It’s so different from what we’ve grown up around. Maybe it’s not the most majestic place but it’s the familiarity, the memory, and reflection of different times.”

There are memories, lots of clear memories, pieces of the events, incidents, and experiences. From helping to rescue a dog from a stream to cross country skiing in tough terrain, the Lloyds are continuing to expand their circle of travelers to include their grandchildren.

The Iowa 8
More recently, with grown children, The Lloyds find themselves traveling with a different kind of family – a group of friends lovingly referred to as ‘The Iowa 8,’ a circle of parents whose children ran cross-country together at Davenport Central High School.

Often these are Road Scholar trips, travels that include an educational component coupled with hiking.

“We’re most often doing something hiking related. There is a range of physical capacity, motivation, and willingness for a challenge. There have been moments of great connection with members of the group. In Rocky Mountain National Park, Doug Robertson wanted to do something more aggressive. The Robertsons have spent more time in the park and on more challenging hikes. We drove up to the highest area. It was a cold blustery morning with strong winds. We got out of the car and the doors were almost blowing off the car, the winds were so fierce. We marched across this tundra on top. We were joking, saying this may be the last thing we ever do together but as we got further down, the day and the hike got better. But a hike of that sort brings you closer as a group.”

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