Essay 2: Canyons and Mountains
A Good Start
At ten minutes past six, my dreams were interrupted by the sound of my alarm clock. My body cringed as the volume of the beeping increased, and with little strength, I reached over to shut it off. I yawned as I stretched my body across the bed, trying to figure out what day it was and why I had set my alarm for six oÕclock. Suddenly, I remembered I had to meet my English class for a hike up Poly Canyon at 7:30, and my body tightened at the thought of having to hike that early in the morning. It was only 6:20 and I felt my day was already off to a terrible start.
As I approached the gate I noticed only a few people had arrived. My muscles ached from the cold, and pessimistic thoughts began to fill my head. Why am I here? WeÕre probably going to have to wait an hour for everyone to show up. The ground is muddy because of all the rain. IÕm going to get sooo dirty. Ugh! I could be sleeping right now!
While I waited with the few others who had arrived, I longed for the warmth of my bed. I heard Professor Marx call out, ÒGood morning!Ó and the comforting thought soon vanished. Within minutes, the last batch of students showed up, and we started on our way.
As we began walking, Professor Marx explained that he was responsible for the placement of the gate at the start of the trail. He told us that any unauthorized vehicles are not allowed past the gate at any time. He mentioned that large vehicles were damaging the delicate road and classes like ours hiking Poly Canyon, were often pushed into bushes as cars carelessly passed. Graffiti and vandalism became a problem in the upper canyon as well; however, when some intoxicated students drove into Brizzolara Creek, leaving their car to pollute it with gasoline and oil, Professor Marx said this was the last straw. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but he had to act before any more destruction took place. In the end, he achieved his goal.
I found it hard to hear some of Professor MarxÕs explanations since I was toward the back of the group, so I took some photos whenever we stopped. However, I was dissatisfied with the way my pictures were turning out. I decided to put my camera away and made my way to the front of the group. We saw poison oak and learned that willows are riparian and grow in the water of the creek. I knew little about Cal Poly land, and my attitude soon changed after hearing a few interesting facts. I felt motivated to move more swiftly along the trail.
After crossing along a small bridge, built by former Cal Poly students, we climbed up a muddy, narrow path that leads to the top of Poly Mountain. I watched my footing carefully and placed myself toward the middle of the single-file line so I could follow the tracks left by those ahead of me. I wanted to smell the freshness of the wintry air, but my nose was running because it was so cold out.
We reached a point of the back side of the mountain that became extremely slippery. A tiny stream of clean water flowed over the rocks, creating more mud to trudge through, but I took my time and used the rocks around me for balance whenever possible. My quadriceps began to burn from the steepness and I was unable to appreciate the landscape around me because I was worried about my safety. Soon after, I heard Professor Marx announce from behind us that we would be stopping at the top of the mountain.
We settled at the top, where I found a smooth rock to rest on. My body was still chilled, but the sun beat down on me, slowly melting the coldness away. I looked up to see a picture painted by nature. The earth looked so alive under the beaming sunshine. The last of the cool morning fog slid behind the emerald hills, hiding itself from the brilliant sun. Cattle were scattered across the grassy hills, happy to see the newborn shrub sprouting from the ground as the crows called out a warning to the earthworms that were bathing in the slimy surface of the damp soil. Blades of grass danced in the crisp morning breeze and the creek sang its song of rushing water.
The moment was over in an instant, and I felt as if I were coming out of a dream as we began heading down the mountain. Immediately, I grew alert and cautiously watched where I was stepping. A few slips and slides helped me descend quickly, and luckily, with no falls. It took a few minutes to reach the Poly ÒPÓ and I realized then that this hike was the best way to start the day. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but also a little ashamed of the way I reacted before the hike began. I realized none of that mattered now. I had just climbed one of the most beautiful mountains in California.