by Andrea Blumenstein
photo credit @kitchencoma
I had a sense that not all fun is the same, but I didn’t know until recently that a specific type of not-your-average good time has a name.
If you aren’t into the extreme mountain sports, you might not have come across this before. It’s called Type II fun. I heard a lot about this Type II fun while sitting at dinner or sometimes breakfast during the past month when I was teaching yoga at a mountain lodge (Llullu Llama if anyone is looking for a great spot!) in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian Andes are full, brimming really, with people who are all about that Type II fun. Don’t get me wrong, they like Type I fun too--that’s the stuff that is fun while you are doing it and after you are doing it, like mountain hot tubs and drinks on a boat.
How do you know if you are having type two fun? Well, it is a bit tricky because the “during” of the event/activity you are miserable. It sucks, everything sucks, you hate yourself for doing it, you hate your friend/boyfriend/whoever for convincing you to do it--even if it was your idea. BUT, what distinguishes this from your run of the mill bad times is that later, maybe much later depending on the level of trauma, you are so glad you did it. You are laughing about it! Telling stories about it! Even considering doing it again (you crazy beast!).
Did you get lost on a hike? Type II fun! No one tells a story for years to come about that time they went for a hike and then went home and ate a sandwich. But, if you went on a hike and got lost, forgot your sandwich in the kitchen before you left and ended up splitting a banana with some backwater type before slowly, painfully finding your way home, then you stumbled upon that sweet sweet Type II fun.
For me, just going hiking in Ecuador was Type II. It was so hard, I thought I was dying. I couldn’t believe that all of these people came all the way out there to do this. Ugh. (I went to teach yoga! Yoga is generally not Type II fun but never discount the possibility.) But then, later, over dinner with fellow hikers laughing about how my yoga skills somehow kept me upright when, if gravity had anything to say about it, I should have definitely slipped and fell in that steaming pile of cow dung! Yeah! And cool, beautiful photos to boot! Hello, Type II fun. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet. You know, to go over everything… they say that time’s supposed to heal you.
Other people that I met didn’t think a day of hiking in the Andes was Type II. Apparently totally forgettable in the mill of life. Fine. Those guys were usually also talking about spending twelve hours scaling an ice cliff and then--YES!--getting to the top. That is their level of Type II and that’s okay. It is a subjective thing.
Things that are almost always going to be ripe with opportunity for Type II:
The moral of the story? Get after it. Spring is here and there are all kinds of opportunities for Type II fun and the family-friendly equivalent. Here are a few suggestions to get you started
The Appalachian Trail offers a multitude of Type II fun opportunities and Pennsylvania boasts 229 miles of the trek that spans from Spring Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Head north from one of the many spots to enter in PA to find a challenge and for a small fee, outdoor adventurers can purchase a variety of trail maps and guides on the official website or join the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) to meet some folks to go along with you.
Lehigh Gorge State Park is characterized by a steep-walled gorge featuringing sharp rock outcropping and waterfalls of the Lehigh River with an overall span of 6,107 miles of nature. Hiking and climbing abounds but the region also offers white water for those looking to get wet.
Treetop Quest Philly will take you high with a range of courses spanning from easy to extreme. This aerial adventure park is really only Type II if you are under the age of 12, but family-style fun is always worth noting!
Hellerick’s Family Farm in Doylestown, PA also falls under the family-style category. Open seasonally, from spring through fall, this local gem offers an aerial adventure park with options for thrill-seekers over the age of 7. Reservations recommended.
Shades of Death Trail has to make the list if not just for its name. Located in Jim Thorpe, PA, the trail runs through Hickory Run State Park with enough ups and downs to challenge anyone game to try it.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia is a half marathon (with 5K and 10K options) set along some of Philadelphia’s most historic landmarks. Scheduled for Sept. 15th, the music and community engagement makes this a great race for everyone!
Finally, a friendly reminder to Leave No Trace if you embark on any of these nature journeys!