Gloria Leal

English 134 Essay #2(revised)

Monday, February 28, 2005

My New Backyard

My stomach was a net holding hundreds of butterflies; anticipation enveloped me the morning of my English class hike. I rose out of bed and jumped into my warm hiking outfit. With eagerness inside me growing every minute I spent in my dorm, I forgot to read the page of items suggested for hiking. Instead I just grabbed a few pens and my sketchbook, the only tools I needed. Now I started on to the paved Poly Canyon entrance. I walked briskly to the group meeting point. I was set on exploring what Poly Mountain, which IÕve dubbed my new backyard, had to offer.

Taking the cue from Dr. Marx, our group set foot on the path ahead, Brizziolari Creek to my left and Poly Mountain to my right. The paved road was bordered with ancient oaks, groves of eucalyptus, sycamores, and bay trees which provided a pleasing scent to the fresh morning air. Earthy shades colored the distant background of trees and mountain sides. The foreground was sparsely covered in olive colored scraggly shrubs and naked poison oak bushes. Willow trees were also loosely scattered along the path, creating a combination of leaves and twigs that was pleasing to the eye this winter season. The paved road dissolved as we progressed and transformed into an uneven, pothole-ridden path.

As a result of the downpour from the previous week, water trickled over the cold Poly Canyon path that led our group into a muddy route, colder and wetter as we approached Brizziolari Creek. Across the rapid water, swollen with the coastal winter storm, was the partially shaded side of Caballo Peak. New grass was painted on the mountains in all directions and had attracted a herd of deer to the sunny summit. I directed the class to my discovery and we intently studied the grazing of these beautiful fawns. The fawns momentarily gazed back down at us and then continued their breakfast. After my sighting of the wildlife, I appreciated the incessant rain that plagued the whole week, because it sustains the beautiful native creatures that graze on these arid mountains.

As I stood admiring the serine [SM1] winter landscapes, Dr. Marx pointed out places around the canyon reflected foreign as well as native influences. He said generations before dumped their garbage near creeks. Cement trash in the creek bed was scattered everywhere. Looking further along the creek, I discovered the past epoch was not the sole contributor of trash but that our current era was dumping muck into Brizziolari Creek. The construction of agricultural sites such as the bull testing areas polluted the ecosystem, and corral waste was draining directly into the creek. I was disturbed by this bull test area, because it wrongly introduced nitrogen and bacteria into the communityÕs recreational water supply. The water passes through Mission Plaza where children play and homeless people wash their hands. Although the rush of the draining water looked exhilarating, the influence of unnatural pollution on the land and creek ruined my impression of what could have been a pristine scene.

The flat path ended and our group reached the tough section of Poly mountain trail. The start of our hike of Poly Mountain began with a short wooden bridge that was designed and built by past Cal Poly students. I marched on to see what was next and I was surprised with the rainÕs effect on the trail because I slipped in the muddy puddles in the rock steps of the trail. I focused on the trail at hand and broke my concentration from the slightly treacherous path only to rest on the sunny hillside. Others in my group easily found a place to sit, while I struggled; however, I gained my balance on the slippery mud, a makeshift seat on a rock appeared to me. From my rocky chair I began to be aware of dark mountains in the background sheltered by the marine layer and shadows made by the sun on the mountains contrasting with the sunbathed pastures. The ridges of the mountains hosted herds of speckled cattle some white, some brown, and some black. These same colors now covered my muddy sketchbook. The warm morning light, accentuated Rock Slide Mountain, where the blend of boulders and green trees was highlighted by the light brown rocks the products of numerous rock slides. On more Cal Poly land, a railroad cut a path through Serrano Ranch with delicate precision. Not a second after I finished entering this in my sketchbook, we were told to continue, so I reluctantly abandoned my seat and pressed on to see the apex of my backyard.

Since I skipped breakfast and forgot to pack a water bottle, the hike was strenuous. My throat was parched, hunger grew stronger and I couldnÕt go on any longer enduring the challenging climb. Then some place between our groups mid-trail stop and the peak of Poly Mountain, I broke off from the groupÕs fast pace. Next without an ounce of energy I gave up my position at the front of the line, and moved out of the way. I feared I would faint from exhaustion if I continued to push forward on the slippery terrain, and I decided to quit the hike. I finally sat down on an inviting serpentine rock; the green seat comforted me as I rested. Next, I caught sight of some stragglers and Dr. Marx following the trailÉI welcomed their presence. I spoke with them and Dr. Marx generously shared a drink of his water with me.

I quenched my thirst and regained my strength. I was the last to reach the top of the mountain with Dr. Marx and the other hikers. The view encompassed the streets and buildings of the city, a thousand feet below the mountain top. San Luis Obispo appeared to fill the gap between Poly Mountain and Irish Hills. I could see the blue Pacific Ocean at the peak of serpentine mountain. The sun shone brightly on our group and we basked in the light of this strenuous accomplishment. I was proud to have such places in my new backyard, and I descended victoriously because I had conquered the challenge and topped Poly Mountain[SM2] .


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 [SM2]A- very fine jobÑa good read.