My First and Last hike in Poly Canyon Essay

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My First and Last hike in Poly Canyon

I knew it was coming. A couple weeks before, I received an introductory email from my instructor explaining the textbook we needed and providing a link to the class website. I selected the link and navigated curiously around the site, arriving at last at the class itinerary. To my horror, I saw planned on the third class day a “moderately strenuous hike over steep, rough ground.” Subsequent readings of this statement produced the same result, and so I resigned myself to impending doom.

And so it was that I found myself standing on a dirt and gravel road, surrounded by equally sleepy classmates at 7:30 am, Monday morning. We all huddled within our baggy jackets, unconsciously mirroring one
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It reminded me that we were not the first to visit this place, nor would we be the last.

We paused a moment beside a large copse of Eucalyptus trees, taking in the soft, pungent scent of their leaves. I imagined them bedraggled fugitives with their bark hanging from them in long, brittle tatters and stringy leaves dangling from long, thin branches as our instructor explained their non-native origins. These were only the first of many foreign plants he introduced to us, which had been purposefully or accidentally introduced into the California habitat and now threatened to unbalance the whole system. The majority of grasses seen on today’s hillsides were brought over by the Spaniards to feed their herds of cattle, a resilient species that has steadily encroached upon the territory of natural grasses.

The hill we approached, however, is one of the last places in California that looks the way it did in terms of flora before European explorations in the area. Spanish daggers hunched on the bare rock like enormous land urchins,d and amber tufts of grass coated the gray brown dirt around it. Our instructor moved off the service road and lead us to a wooden bridge that spanned a now dry creek. Stepping on it and following my classmates across I felt that we were crossing a threshold into another world, leaving our classes and friends and responsibilities to

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