|Peaks of the San Jacinto high country as seen from the north (from Folly Peak).|
Shirley Peak is just left of center.
Note "The Rockpile" at the far right. More on that later.
The Definition of a Peak
Different web sites will talk about "prominence" (how far a given summit sticks out above everything around it) and "isolation" (how far away a given summit is from other summits around it), but there is no generally accepted values for what qualifies as a peak – and applying strict rules would disqualify many popular and well known peaks. In reality, what people think looks like a peak generally gets recognized as a peak. Subjective? Yes, but that's the reality of it.
What's on My List?
For the purposes of my list, what have I done? Well, I have included on my list any peak that I could find some form of general acceptance as a peak. In other words, peaks generally recognized as peaks are on my list; peaks that have no general recognition are not.
Is "Shirley" a Peak?
Originally, I did not include Shirley Peak thinking that it was not generally recognized as a peak. Yes, I knew that it had a name, but I thought that name was circulated among perhaps a single set of people (the local SAR unit) and that it really wasn't generally recognized as a peak. But when I did not include Shirley Peak on my original list, a number of people contacted me, pointing out my omission. It became quite clear to me that the name "Shirley Peak" was more widely known that I was first aware of.
"Elevating" Shirley Peak
Based on people's reactions, I began to consider including Shirley Peak on my list. Then I took a photograph of the San Jacintos from about 95 miles (153 km) away.
|The San Jacintos – from about 95 miles (153 km) away|
|The main crest of the San Jacinto high country|
Well then, what is not a Peak?
If you're going to add Shirley, why not add more? I mean aren't there other peak-like objects out there that are over 10,000'/3048m in elevation?
Indeed there are. So, what is not a peak? Well, let's have another look at the San Jacinto high country.
|A topographic map of the San Jacinto high country|
Well, the way that particular "peak" got a name is that a group of us wanted to honor a friend named Ellen, so we made a register, took a hike with our friend, and christened the peak. However, sticking a can with a register in it on a rock pile does not necessarily a peak make. Now, maybe the name will "stick," but until it does I think I'll hold off adding this one to my list. Time and the outdoor community will have the final say.
Speaking of "rock piles", here's a photo of "Mount Ellen", seen on the far right.
|Marion Mountain (left) and Mount Ellen (right)|
Now, on the topo map, notice another summit north and slightly east of "Mount Ellen." I've just labeled this as "Peak?" It's approximately the same elevation as Mount Ellen. Would I suggest this as a peak? Well, let's take a look; here's a photo. The labels are a little small, so you may want to right click and open in a new window for maximum readability.
|Peaks of the San Jacinto high country as seen from the south (from Marion Mountain).|
To enlarge, right click and open in a new window.
|My daughter, Joyce, "hiking" near "Joyce Peak"|
Now, note one more thing in the previous photo. Between Folly Peak and San Jacinto Peak, there's a little summit which I've labeled as "Little Folly". I don't think that summit is generally recognized as a peak, but who knows? "Little" Charlton in the San Gorgonio Wilderness is considered one of the classic "Nine Peaks" of that wilderness, so perhaps in time Little Folly will gain recognition. Will I put it on my list? We'll see.
Admittedly, the process of determining what exactly constitutes a peak is more than just a little bit arcane, but I hope this post gives you some insight into what is and what is not a peak and how I've compiled my list.
As always, thanks for joining me,