There's been a lot going on lately, but I can't help but think back to a trip I took a while back with some great friends. Of all the trips I've been on there's only one reason that trip stands out so strongly in my mind: it sucked.
The trip was a 100-mile paddle through the Adirondacks, using a route along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, the friends I was paddling with were a blast and the fishing was outstanding. The thing we remember though, was how much it sucked. Particularly, the cold weather, the portages, gear failure, the cold weather some more; it all added up to a trip that kicked our ass. I thought my buddies Mark Vlaskamp, Robert Field and Rex DeGuzman were never going to talk to me again afterwards.
There's something called Type Three Fun, popularized by my favorite podcast, the Dirtbag Diaries. Simply put, Type One fun sounds like it'll be a good time when you hear the plan, and you have a good time. You probably don't bring up a story at the bar or by the campfire, except maybe one time.
Type Two fun, that sounds like a great time when you're planning it, but something goes wrong on the trip and you have to suck it up and get through it. This type of fun generates a story or two that you can regale your friends with by the bar or campfire.
Type Three fun is the best. I mean the worst. It really depends on how long ago the trip is, as Type Three fun sounds like a terribly stupid idea while you're planning it, is absolute hell during the trip, but afterwards you can't help but think back on the trip with a smile. That 100-mile paddle through the Adirondacks was exactly that type of beautiful Type Three fun that's so hard to find nowadays in your daily life, even if you try to plan it. The suffering is what makes a trip so great.
I'm looking ahead at the Fall and Winter seasons with excitement. There's a lot coming down the pipeline, with my new book available now, the freelance work I'm working on and a lot more projects that I can't wait to share, but for now I still stop thinking about that trip a few Springs ago. It really just makes me want to plan another one for next year – with just as much suffering.
The formula is a pretty simple one: think of a fun trip, double the length and double the difficulty, give yourself just enough time to get it done, but not enough that you can take it easy (you'll always get behind), and mix in a few unknown variables.
For the Adirondack trip the variables were the weather, the distance, half of the group's paddling abilities, and whether or not our bodies could physically take the long, grueling portages. It turns out they could, and we're better because we tried and almost failed. That's exactly why I need another one.
What trips are you planning out for next year? How much suffering is too much and does your trip need a little more to really start calling it an adventure?
Watch the four-part video series, 100-Mile Canoe Fishing Expedition, and see if you become inspired to plan a trip for yourself. Or maybe you'll think we're absolutely nuts. I can't really blame you either way.