January 17, 2004
“BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.” My alarm rang at 6:45 a.m., and as I rolled out of bed, I was feeling anything but excited to go on a hike with my English class. I put on layers of clothes to protect me from the morning chill. I laced up my boots, grabbed a Clif Bar, and left the warmth of my room to meet the class by 7:30. The air was crisp, and my hands ached from the cold.
After Professor Marx gave a short introduction to the hike, we began to walk. Huge eucalyptus trees lined the rocky dirt road. To our left was Brizzolara Creek, a small stream of rain water running down from the mountains. The water level was high due to the heavy rainfall this year. The quiet trickle of the water running over the rocks soothed me as I tried to convince myself that the hike would be fun. The creek is home to many willow and oak trees as well as bay and sycamore trees, all of which require a lot of water to grow. To our right, a hill covered in poison oak revealed the steep incline we would later encounter. Spanish Daggers scattered the hillside and pointed up at the glowing sky. I felt a twinge of excitement in my stomach while the rest of my body still suffered from the cold. Nevertheless, I continued to place one foot in front of the other, eager to get to the top and see the land surrounding my school and my new home.
After ten minutes into our hike, we came to a bridge that led us to a trail that directed us away from the main road. We immediately began to ascend the mountain, winding back and forth along steep switchbacks. The trees engulfed us like we were walking through a tunnel of foliage. It was dark and wet which only intensified the cold. My skin stung and became bright red, begging for the warmth of the sun to reach down and warm it.
<>The trees and brush opened up to reveal rolling hills and mountains in the distance, blanketed in fog. The rays of sun fell onto the hills below us, but we remained in the shadow of the mountain we were hiking. The higher we climbed, the fewer trees were growing. It was as if the mountain exposed its beauty for us to enjoy.
We stopped for a short break to observe the surroundings and reflect on the environment. I watched the sun rise from behind a nearby mountain. The soft rays warmed our frozen bodies, and the gentle glow provided energy for the intense uphill hike that followed. I could feel my muscles beginning to tense, and I was eager to continue the hike. I wanted to reach the top, and I knew if I remained still for too long, it would be difficult to begin again.
The trail became steep and rocky. I was glad to have my hiking boots; I could not imagine trying to scramble up the rocks in tennis shoes. The ground was muddy and slippery from the recent rainfall. My feet stuck to the ground with every step. The muscles in my legs were burning from the giant steps up <>the unstable earth. We reached the top of the mountain and walked along the ridge for a few minutes until we arrived at a good look-out point. We could see the ocean for 180 degrees, all of the Cal Poly campus, and many rolling hills and mountains all around. The sun was now high in the morning sky, shining down on the <>tired students.
While we stood at the top, enjoying the landscape, one of the students walked to the end of the ridge and stood at the edge of the mountain. All I could see was his small silhouette in front of the vast green backdrop. It showed how massive the earth is and how small we are in comparison.
The descent was quick. We were nearly running down the hill because it was so steep. The slippery rocks made it <>challenging to descend without difficulty. I was afraid of slipping and falling. Despite the steep decline, I successfully reached the bottom unscathed. Although I was not looking forward to the early-morning hike, I learned to appreciate the country surrounding my new home. Until that Wednesday morning, I was not aware of the beauty that is Cal Poly.