Yesterday I hiked Squaw Peak (it’s Piestewa Peak now, right? Because ‘squaw’ is offensive?*) with 5 male children aged 2-14. I feel like it should be documented for its anthropological relevance on the study of male adolescents and their development as they age. In the interest of science, this is what it’s like to hike with juvenile male humanoids:
Though of seemingly sturdy build, and in possession of a hearty amount of caloric reserves that would appear to make him an ideal candidate for long-term survival in the wild, this specimen (we’ll call him “Gus”) was ill-equipped for the rocky terrain. His short limbs and the tall steps were a problematic combination, only exacerbated by his short temper. He was generally the most vocal member of the group and was often carried by elder members of the tribe. Despite his lack of exertion over the journey, he was often in need of ‘snacks’ to keep his strength up. Additionally, he refused to move without Lego Spiderman secure in his chubby fist, which he repeatedly dropped into tiny crevices, possibly on purpose, as a way to test his parents’ love and commitment to him.
By age 4, the human male juvenile (“Colby”) has developed enough coordination and long enough legs and arms it appears he should be physically capable of completing the hike. His resistance to the activity, however, appeared to eclipse that of all members of the tribe, even his younger, less capable, sibling’s. He didn’t put up a vocal fight, so much as just a total shut out of anyone who tried to engage him and an utter refusal to put one foot in front of the other. He also required alternate transportation of the parental-sherpa variety, and a large quantity of snacks. It’s clear willful resistance depletes energy reserves at a greater rate than we ever could have imagined.
The 7 year old specimen, “Jonas” appeared the most pleased with the requisite activity; often running ahead of the group and climbing rock outcroppings along the trail. Halfway through the hike he informed the group he was choosing a new spirit name and would from here on out only answer to ‘Ninja’ or ‘Hardcore Parkour’. Strangely enough, early in the hike, his arms developed a peculiar condition that made them too weak and exhausted to carry his own water bottle, but strong and dexterous enough to carry a large, dagger shaped rock and a second large rock, which he used for ‘sharpening’ his shank. He spent much of the hike verbally detailing what he would do and how he would survive if he was trapped out here in the wilderness on this hike overnight. First step in the survival process would be to kill something to eat. Anthropologically speaking, it’s possible he’s been watching too much Dude, You’re Screwed, Naked and Afraid, and Survivorman.
At 10, the male human (“Gray”) appears to be a more solitary creature. His hiking skills and abilities are in the high range (although he appeared more fair-skinned than the others and suffered a reaction to the heat commonly known as ‘tomato face’). He often ran ahead and was unseen for long periods of time, only to be found eventually, waiting, perched on a rock, sweaty and complaining of nausea.
The pre-adult version of the human male, at 14, was possibly the most perplexing of the subjects. “Bennett”, although in possession of excellent physicality, with extremely long limbs that should make short work of the rocks that presented a challenge for the smaller children, was nearly as emotionally adverse to the activity as his 4 year old cousin. He vocally expressed unhappiness, and eventually, outrage, at being “forced” (his words) to attend the outing. He complained of physical ailments, and eventually, because he was too large to be carried, was left behind.
In summation, it’s clear from the data of this field observation that the human male adolescent goes through a cycle of development, that peaks in energy, ability, and lack of bitching, in the 6-10 year old range, and eventually tapers off until he becomes a veritable child again by the time he’s a teenager. It’s unclear if he ever overcomes this in adulthood.
*I just Googled ‘why is squaw offensive’ because I’ve never understood whether it was a racial thing or a feminist thing. I always understood it to refer to a married Native American lady, which seems like it would be comparative to naming a mountain Wife Summit. That wouldn’t be offensive, right? (I’m white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender, and have brown eyes, so I am inherently kind of an asshole who doesn’t always know what is and is not offensive and why. But I am left-handed, so it’s not like my people have never been oppressed.) The articles I read mostly agreed the term ‘squaw’ refers to a female, either young or young and married. They made reference to the fact that ‘some people’ think the term refers to a vagina, and that’s why it’s thought to potentially be derogatory. But, I mean, at most that would be vulgar, not culturally demeaning, right? And none of the articles were even super sure that’s right. It’s only possibly offensive. Maybe. Who really knows. I’m so glad I just spent 10 minutes of my life researching that. Also, now I’m just going to call it The Vagina Hike.