The Hike Up Poly Mountain

The Hike Up Poly Mountain

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The Hike Up Poly Mountain

Our journey begins on a foggy and cool Monday morning in late
September. The group of freshman English students wait eagerly at the gate to
Poly Canyon anticipating the adventures to come. Once Professor has taken
roll and explained what is in store for the impending hike, we start walking
up a rocky path. Immediately I feel like I am in nature. I am reminded of all
the camping and hiking trips I went on as a child and I feel at peace. But
something in the sky keeps bothering me, the fog. I was expecting to be able
to stand on top of Poly Mountain and see the entire city of San Luis Obispo. I
brought my camera along hoping to take beautiful pictures of the city and send
them home to my family. But the thick fog above my head reminds me that this
probably will not happen. I try to take the ominous fog off my mind and
continue examining the land.

We walk past the dry creek bed of Brizzolara Creek and it becomes
obvious we have not had a significant amount of rainfall in months. A fellow
hiker points out several deer on the canyon side, the first sign of wildlife.
I can hear birds chirping in the distance but cannot see any because of the
dense fog. I am hit on the nose with a drop of dew falling from a Coast Live
Oak and another drop falling from a Eucalyptus tree. The air is still and the
sun remains hidden behind the fog. We walk farther into the canyon and come
across several manmade structures. A small footbridge over a gentle stream and
a rock arch inviting hikers into the hills are reminders of what man can do to
enhance nature’s beauty. The path gets steeper and narrower and as we climb
higher, the fog gets thicker. I am still hoping the fog will fade away enough
so that I can experience the beautiful views I was expecting.

Our hike up Poly Mountain becomes much more strenuous and we stop
every few minutes to catch our breath. We are no longer hidden underneath

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trees but we are out in the open walking along a narrow trail. We pass a
beautiful, green Oak tree with the bottom layer of leaves eaten off by deer.
Piles of scat are littered along the trail, another sign of wildlife. The
prickly, green Yucca plant and Purple needlegrass, which should be called
brown needlegrass at this time of the year, dot the landscape and large,
lichen-covered boulders provide a nice place to sit and reflect. The sun is
beginning to shine through the fog, making me hopeful for a clear view once we
reach the top of Poly Mountain.

Fifteen minutes later, there is a significant change in the
environment and ambiance of the land. The sun is shining bright as we stand on
top of a mountain peak and while fog remains on one side of the mountain it
has become clear on the other side. I can see the rolling hills below and they
remind me of the bare, golden hills near my home in the Bay Area. At the base
of the fog-infested side of the mountain, I can hear the roar of cars and the
chiming of clock bells but cannot see them. I am still wishing the fog would
clear enough so that I can experience an aerial view of the Cal Poly campus.

At last, the fog has cleared considerably and the sky is a miraculous
blue color. The drops of dew on the native grasses glisten in the sunlight and
the air feels cool and crisp. A herd of twenty horses peacefully graze the
hillside not far from our group. When we walk farther down the mountain, I am
finally able to see the Cal Poly campus and I feel as though I have truly
accomplished something. I spot the Performing Arts Center, the South Mountain
residence halls, and the baseball fields and I take the photographs I was
hoping for. This striking view lifts my spirits and I feel I huge grin come
upon my face. While I would love to stay on this mountainside for hours
longer, we must continue our hike and return to our hectic lives.

Our hike down the front of Poly Mountain goes quickly and we only
pause for a minute to examine the infamous “Poly P.” The vegetation on this
side of the mountain is sparse, with only some sagebrush plants and low-lying
grasses. We reach the South Mountain parking lots and our journey into the
tranquil beauty of Cal Poly land is over. I become eager to go about my day
and share my experiences with others. But most of all, I am pleased that the
fog cleared and I was able to experience the beautiful views I was expecting.
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