By: Dave Hammond
It was several years after joining the DPS that I started marking peaks on my AAA count): maps. Spectre was the only peak I could not find, so I eventually marked it in the Coxcombs on the east side of Joshua Tree National Monument from descriptions in the SAGE.
Then the day arrived (26 Feb 1994) that I joined a DPS group to climb the peak. For a start the road appears to be straight forward but it is sandy, requiring 4WD or a 3 mile walk. The hike is up a comparatively wide canyon, but this has to be left at a canyon going off to the right at right angles, a rather unusual approach. This canyon is a long boulder scramble and emerges on a small plateau then to find the summit. The maps indicate Agua as the high point but it isn't! It's 1/2km away to the south. "Topo is incorrect, having accidentally omitted a number of contour lines from the top portion of Spectre Point" to quote the guide. The route up we took was high class 2 and the summit area is one of the smallest I have been on, certainly in the desert. We took a slightly easier route down and returned a more direct route along the hypotenuse of the triangle so to speak. However, we strayed and came down the wrong canyon Joining our route in about halfway up the wide canyon which fortunately went well! And I did not mention our straying from the main canyon on our way in! So for me Spectre more than lived up to its mysterious location. I was glad to have left it to one of the count down peaks (#89) and appreciate its unique features.
The next day I went for the summit of Pinto on my own. I could not go wrong, could I, across the desert and up the peak, but I stared at the summit cairn from the wrong high point! However, it was an easy hike to the cairn, so at the time of writing it is seven to go!
Oh Spectre is "a ghost, fear of an expected calamity" according to my Little Oxford Dictionary. Nothing like that on this trip, but there was a calamity reported in the SAGE last year.
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