Stories from the Crew at GOS
From Great Outdoor Store
I went on my first camping trip about 20 years ago. I consider it a first date with the guy who is now my husband. I didn’t have any gear. I didn’t know what backcountry camping was like. I didn’t even know what sleeping in a tent looked like. We went to a large sporting goods store before we left and I bought a very heavy, large pack that probably wasn’t the right torso size for me, a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. I looked at the backpack and wondered how in the world I was going to fit three days worth of stuff in it--my hair care products at the time took up most of the space.
The morning of our trip we headed out to the Black Hills from Sioux Falls, leaving early so we would have time to hike back into the French Creek backcountry area during daylight hours. The ride out there was great--I was heading out for a new adventure to a place that I had never really explored. Jeff was being a great tour guide. We stopped at Wall Drug and he showed me his favorite places in the Hills...which included the Needles highway.
This was when I got completely car sick. Not only that, but the exposure to all the plants and trees kicked my allergies into overdrive. I was miserable. Jeff rifled around in his car and found some expired cold medicine in his medkit. I took some and immediately fell asleep. I imagine this is how most Lifetime abduction movies begin. I woke up when we arrived at the French Creek trail entrance. I was thankful to be on solid ground and breathing some fresh air! We packed up all of our gear and headed for our site. Even though we were only camping for two nights, we could have survived for a solid month with what we took back there.
The hike in was great. We had plenty of daylight to set up camp and explore the area. I was completely exhausted and fell asleep before the sun set. But after a few solid hours of sleep, I was wide awake, listening to every little critter that comes out at night. Fun fact: Jeff is completely deaf in one ear, so he sleeps on his good ear silencing all of the noises that come with sleeping in the backcountry. With Jeff being completely unhelpful, I drifted in and out of sleep. When I would go back to sleep, my dreams were full of little critters that turned into giant critters and then ate us.
As soon as the sun was up and I was certain that all the animals of the forest were gone, I was out of the tent and looking for a place to use all of the haircare products that I had lugged back there. I walked about ten feet and almost ran into a buffalo. I grew up on a dairy farm, so being around large animals was not something new to me. I didn’t know that I should be scared, so I just kept an eye on him as I went about my morning routine.
When Jeff woke up I told him of my buffalo encounter and I’m pretty sure he thought I was still under the influence of the expired cold medicine. The rest of the weekend passed without incident and turned out to be the first camping trip of many to come. Five years later we would head back to that part of the Black Hills to get married. It was that first trip that made me fall in love with the outdoors.
We may not get out on the trails as much as we would like to--life has a way of complicating things. But, I do get to spend my days helping people getting ready for their next adventure. It may be a trip to the Hills or a trip to the Himalayas. In either case, know that when we are helping you to get new gear, we are just as excited for your trip as you are.
Nancy has been working at Great Outdoor Store since 2002. She is a sometimes ultramarathoner, back country hiker, and sailor. She spends most of her free time in the garden and tending to barnyard animals. Her travels have taken her to a few corners of the world, but Mexico is where her heart (and sailboat) live.