Spectre Point


By: Mark Adrian


What's the Point?

Grandeur in anonymity; Spectre Point eludes an "official" placename. Many of the 97 DPS peaks are embellished with either a formal placename, a government survey marker, or both. However, such is not the case for Spectre Point (Guide no. 4.9), the "mysterious" highpoint of the Coxcomb Mountains, situated in northeastern Joshua Tree National Park.

Perhaps the peak's unofficial name is revealing of its alleged "omitted contour lines". However, Franklin Meyers's article (Sage #241, pp 11/12) reveals the name is justified "because they saw the Spectre of the Brocken from the summit". Either way, one's curiousity about the "true" topography is puzzling. The topo map (Cadiz Valley SW, CA, Provisional Edition 1985, shown in inset) would have you believe Spectre Point is 1,300 meters (4,265'), while the DPS Guide mentions the summit at "4400+". It is indeed rare when the USGS "looses" contours. The history of Spectre Point's elusive elevation and range highpoint assessment would likely be an interesting read and since Spectre Point was added in January 1952 (before my time), I invite those DPSers whose recollections might enlighten and entertain the rest of us, to submit their anecdotes for a future Sage.

Furthermore, I propose "we" submit an official placename request to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. Since DPS naming conventions are not always predictable and Franklin states the first ascent party named the summit "Spectre Peak" , perhaps, this should be seriously considered. How the name transitioned to "Spectre Point" is just as "mysterious" as the missing contour lines on the 7.5' map.

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