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Classifications of “Fun”

The author enjoying, what is, for him, Type I Fun: hiking in Zealand Notch.

Humans are obsessed with quantification. How many are there? What is the size? How often does it occur? And to what magnitude? To help we have scales for everything: distance, weight, size, duration, intensity, temperature, and so on, and this just scratches the surface. From Fahrenheit to Richter, many have contributed to this madness. And that’s what we hope to do. We’re here to quantify outdoor “fun.” In this case we are referring to hiking and other similar outdoor pursuits. Do bear in mind that on what we speak of here today has existed prior to us speaking on it. We haven’t invented anything new, or even re-invented anything, but we did want to take a moment to talk about these “fun” terms terms all the same. Let’s dive in.

Three Categories of Outdoor Fun

Type I Fun

For those accustomed to and appreciative of the rigors of walking their way up mountains — meaning they’ll gladly do something they don’t “need” for some list — hiking would be considered Type I Fun. Lots of things fall into the category. Most things. Essentially it boils down to liking something while you’re doing it. If you’re on a hike or doing something else outdoors, and you’re having a wonderful day, you are experiencing Type I Fun. This is easily the most popular category of fun. It’s the easiest to embrace and the rewards easier to grasp though arguably not as valued as hard earn rewards. For that, keep reading.

Type II Fun

For those unaccustomed to and unappreciative of the rigors of walking their way up mountains, simple hiking might be Type II Fun for them. For them Type I Fun requires toning things down. For many people, however, it takes more hardcore or grueling stuff like mountaineering and climbing pursuits to enter into the Type II realm. Essentially this type of fun boils down to not really loving what you’re doing while you’re doing it — like, life sucks hard while you’re doing it and you have to dig deep and really force yourself to get it done — but then after it’s over you are just basking in the glow of accomplishment. Remembrance become reverence. This type of fun is unforgettable and enters into our minds and our conversations for days, weeks, months, years, even decades. Type II Fun begs to be repeated again and again even though it sucks while doing it, at least during moments. For some, this type of fun is addictive.

Type III Fun

This is arguably not fun at all. You hate it while you’re doing it, and afterward, you continue to hate it. Hindsight never reveals the joy. Looking back you might have thought it’d end up Type II Fun, at worst, right? But the reality was so much more. The storm, the avalanche, the getting lost, the pain and aguish, the almost dying. All this fun adds up quickly and can overwhelm a person. It could be reasonably argued that Type III Fun is unintentional — that it’s Type II Fun gone awry. Though you know, out there, someone made it a choice for themselves.

It’s All Subjective

The definitions above are clear enough. Demarcation is possible in this way. Fun can and does get categorized in our minds, but the application of these terms is and always will be wholly subjective. What’s fun for one person isn’t necessarily fun for another, same goes for the sucky side of things. What most people hate doing — whatever that may be — there’s someone out there loving that sort of thing. In fact, it would be no surprise to find some Facebook group or website with a dedicated following devoted to it. Conversely, it is guaranteed that there is someone out there who views all outdoor activities as Type III Fun.

This person is taking a break on Mt Washington in the winter. For her, this is Type I Fun. Her frozen hair is just blocking her smile.

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