Why we do this – the three types of fun

I actually find this discussion quite interesting, becaUse don’t think I experience Type 2 fun.

I’m either enjoying myself, or I’m not. I’ve never been a person that disliked something in the moment but then considered it fun after the fact. For me, it stays as a not fun experience.

There are times when I know if I keep trying something, eventually I’ll get more comfortable and it might eventually become fun, but I don’t find the process of getting there fun.

This has actually come up in many aspects of my life. I’ve always said I’m the polar opposite of an “adrenaline junkie.”

I think I actually envy people that do experience Type 2 fun….

Since 4 and 5 are taken. I offer type six, that was not fun this time but I aim to change a few things, try again so it is fun.

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One Type 3. Pure bad judgement.

It was enough. No need to do that again.

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I would call type 2 fun “Accomplishment”. Pushing yourself to go very fast or very far can be miserable but the sense of accomplishment feels good.

I don’t think there’s any such thing as type 3 fun. The word “misery” works just fine.


The movie was more fun. Mind you, I wasn’t in the direct path on any of those ocasions - only too close to it for comfort.

There have been a bunch of lightning storms, and I’d bet most of us have been caught in a few of those, that were probably just as dangerous objectively. I can think of one lightning storm on a Pnet Wisconsin river trip that a bunch of us shared. (TheBob, GuideboatGuy, Durangoski, Boyscout, WildernessWebb, & Vic were in it too.) Too close to too much power. There are times when skill is irrelevant and judgement close to it.

But tornadoes and lightning can get you at home hiding under the bed too. At least they aren’t hurricanes… None of it is fun.

In the Army we had a saying, “embrace the suck”. Meaning; accepting or even appreciating something that is difficult and unavoidable. I try to keep myself out of those type situations while paddling, but some portages have fit that category.

Anyone that has a history of serious paddling has had experiences that fall in all three categories.
I am happy to report rescues, not no body recoveries.
Sometimes repairing busted boats requires creativity 40 miles from the nearest road.


“Another cow.”
“It’s the same cow.”

Some one had fun with moments in that script.

Numbers don’t matter…


The EC is similar to some of the strenuous backpacking trips I go on. It can be physically difficult or downright suck at times, but the beauty and “view from the top” makes it worthwhile (usually). Just being “out there” as opposed to sitting behind a desk will lead to hardship and whether it is type 1, 2, or 3 “fun” depends largely on how you choose to perceive it.

I think a lot of people who like type 2 or 3 fun are looking for a bit more stress / challenge in their lives. On the plus side of “embracing the suck” is that you learn to recognize your blessings. Sometimes you need to give something up for a while to realize what you have; sometimes you just need to get out of your head and step away from news, FaceBook, etc, and live in the moment and connect with the real world. We all have our unique reasons…


Yep, for me I wanted to take on a new challenge and learn new things. I hadn’t done anything “challenging” since finishing grad school in 2009. Fortunately I think I found my outlet!

gstammer’s and a few other posts here put me in mind of a book that pertains to this topic and which those here who haven’t read it might enjoy: “Feeding the Rat: Profile of a Climber” by Al Alvarez. Its about the climber Mo Anthoine. Here was a guy who didn’t seem to be having fun at all until he was well into type 3 fun.

We were nine days and 130+ NM into an outer coast jaunt from Bella Bella to Prince Rupert. It was day 2 of 4 days that we would spend on Banks Island, the coast of which is festooned with all sorts of confidence-inspiring place names. Calamity Bay, Terror Point, Grief Point, Foul Bay, Junk Ledge and Wreck Islands to name a few. As we ground against the current and quartering wind I pondered how all of those features ended up being named after bad experiences. Little did I know that I would soon be adding to the Banks Island Collection of Nightmare Names by christening a small indentation in the rocky shoreline with the name “Crap Camp”.

We were into what has probably been my least favorite day of kayaking ever and it was followed by what was certainly my least favorite night. The paddle up island was just a raggedy, grey wet slog. Low grey clouds, heavy grey rain, endless grey water and battering grey gale. A very tough day of paddling in rain and moderate to strong west winds with associated sea state. Awkward wind direction, adverse currents, bent and reflected waves. Staying upright took concentration. Staying warm was more difficult. No place to land, let alone camp.

About 1.5 NM south of Kelp Point we entered a narrow tapering cove to get out of the conditions and found a beach-of-sorts that was choked with large drift logs. While it would be inundated by the evening’s high tide it was out of the wind and we had been in our boats for five hours so we landed to see if camping was possible. Everywhere, rivulets carved streams in the sand beneath the confusion of logs and anyplace you stepped immediately filled with water that didn’t soak in. The steeply ascending forest that backed the beach was impenetrable.

There was one tiny place at the base of the rock-lined forest where Dave’s two-person tent could be crammed in to accommodate one person. Then, we found a small sloping spot for me to jam in up against the rocks that bordered the beach. It took a lot of clearing and laying of sticks and still wasn’t nearly large enough for my tent but it looked like someplace I could maybe seek shelter from the rain. Greg was screwed as there was no room inside our tents and I had taken the last possible spot. He vowed to set up, watch the tide and move below the logs after the tide retreated. He placed all sorts of small flotsam in front of the logs that would make noise if they moved and woke him up.

I stripped out of my dry suit inside the tent and noted that the floor was already soaked as water moved beneath it. I had to be careful about letting anything touch the floor as it would immediately be wet and I was cold. My sleeping bag was already damp and didn’t provide the insulation I needed so I kept my neoprene helmet liner on, changed into my last clean and dry long underwear, put on my last dry socks, wrapped my jacket around my feet, zipped up my bag and attempted to stay on top of my air mattress which provided a tiny sort-of island. If I could keep everything dry by staying on top of the mattress, I had a chance to warm up and get some rest. That was a fool’s mission, though as the “ground” sloped significantly towards the water so I continually migrated down the mattress and had to wriggle back up. The wetness on the tent floor increased and by the light of my headlamp I could see water pooling beneath it. Just as I would start to doze off, I would feel the end of the tent with my feet and do the uphill wriggle again. At least my feet and legs were warming up.

About this time, I was figuring that there wasn’t much else that could go wrong when between wriggles I received an unwanted visit from the Gastro-Intestinal Fairy. “Wait-what?!” I had been bothered by odd rumblings for a few days but had been able to keep things in check. Now the GI Fairy was calling checkmate and it was time to get out of the tent in a hurry. Like about 5 minutes ago but I was zipped tightly into my bag with my legs zipped tightly into the sleeves of my jacket.
No time for a zipper to get stuck but in my haste, I jammed it up good.
Doing the uphill wriggle to exit my bag while struggling to accomplish a favorable outcome I quickly abandoned any attempts of keeping things dry.
I had to get the damn insulated jacket off of my legs.
Next came unzipping the tent but in my panicked attempt I grabbed the upper zipper instead of the lower.
Time was up and I had to be outside. I didn’t have time to zip it back up and grab the lower zipper so I negotiated the partially open tent door with as much care as was possible, which under the circumstances is to say none at all. Throwing the vestibule door up over my head I rapidly crawled out into the driving rain in my last clean and dry long johns and socks, the very same ones that I had worked so hard to keep dry. On the verge of exploding, I aimed away from the tent and paid homage to the GI Fairy.

I didn’t sleep that night as I was soaked, cold, fixated on the water in my tent, worried about another visit by the G.I.F. and wondering whether it was worth trying to stay on my “air mattress island” or just roll over and die of hypothermia. After much consideration I chose to live.

So, on a 238 NM, 15 day trip that was one of the best experiences of my life there wasn’t a ton of Type I fun to be had. Lots of Type II experiences and one totally Type III day and night. Would I do it again? Damn right I would. In a heartbeat. I’ve replaced my soiled long johns so I’m good to go.


Great story. I’ve been close enough to those conditions to relate . I never encountered them is such a short window though.

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If you haven’t camped on a beach next to a salt marsh with a light offshore wind during warm weather and had the G.I.F. exiting at both ends in the middle of the night. Then you have never been a blood donor to a gazillon mosquitoes and no-see-ems and not cared. I blame it on the boiled peanuts I ate while paddling that day. Makes me itch just thinking about it. Thank goodness, I only had to exit the tent once that night. because I don’t think I had enough blood to donate a second time. Not something I have done since or ever want to repeat.

Climbing mountains with a backpack has taught me to disconnect from discomfort and not dwell on thinking about getting to the top. You’ll get there faster if you let your mind do anything else like perhaps singing in your head.

I tend to enjoy type 2 fun while it happens, but as I age type 2 is becoming less appealing. Although the EC 300 is calling me. Perhaps, perhaps not.


That is a great story - we must be nuts to do this stuff.

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With things like the GIF, it is luck (or lack of it), not so much planning and skills.

You could have a Type III time with illness despite the entire rest of the outing being Type I. But of course it is much worse when you are not at your rainproof, warm home with a toilet nearby.

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Another situation besides camping trips where I often get Type II is when taking classes. The whole purpose is to reach higher, which can be unsettling or stress-provoking, at least initially.

This year I’ll be heading for two different periods of what no doubt will be Type II paddling. My role is to use those to keep future times at Type I and II as much as possible while still actually DOING the paddling, as opposed to quitting the sport. The latter is a surefire way to avoid Type III paddling!

My type 3 fun was a fishing trip to a creek and following it up to the confluence with another creek. The hope was catching some small mouth bass. Instead I ended up stuck in quick sand one leg sucked knee deep and the other leg I managed to bend at the knee and not sink in. As luck would have it there was cell phone coverage and I called my wife and said “honey I have a little problem”. She knows those calls are never good.

After describing my location she arrived with 3 park rangers, 2 men and one women. The 2 guys said we will throw you a rope and pull. Not a good plan as that wasn’t going to work. So the gal grabs the shovel I asked my wife to bring along and wades in to help me. She was able to get the shovel under the heel of my foot that was stuck and break the suction so I could get out.

I will admit was a bit scary but good for a laugh once I was rescued. One big thing to take away from this is tell someone where your going because you can’t always count on cell phone coverage.


For me, type 2 fun most often happens when I head out to paddle a new river. Its a little different than classes, but the stress and anxiety are probably about the same. In both cases you are pushing yourself harder with the hope of improving your skills.

There is an old adage in whitewater paddling “if you aren’t swimming, you aren’t trying hard enough”. To become a better paddler you definitely need to push yourself and take some risks. I
I am pretty careful about the risks that I take, which kept me out of type 3 fun (at least up to now), but there has been plenty of type 2 fun along the way.

So I guess another way of saying that old whitewater adage is “if you are not in type 2 fun at least some of the time, how do you get better as a paddler?”