Brief by George Sibley
Geography – October 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine
You might think that every place worth naming has been named now, but there is at least one small unnamed peak in the Colorado Rockies that is unique enough to warrant a name — and a coterie of Coloradans are going to do something about it, starting with a hike Saturday, October 2.
On the Continental Divide, about four miles south of Marshall Pass in Saguache County, in the region known as the Cochetopa Hills, is a point just to the northeast of Windy Peak marked on the map only with its unimpressive elevation, 11,862 feet. What makes “Point 11,862” interesting, however, is the convergence there of watershed ridges such that water from the point runs off into three of the major river basins of the American West: to the Arkansas River via Silver Creek; to the Colorado River via Marshall Creek, Tomichi Creek and the Gunnison; and to the Rio Grande, via a manmade canal from the Closed Basin in the upper San Luis valley.
There are only a few “triple divides” like this in the Rockies, and an ad hoc “Point 11,862 Committee” wants this one to be appropriately recognized. The committee, at this point, is composed of Ed Quillen, Denver Post columnist and publisher of this magazine; Dale Sanderson, a cartographer for US West; and George Sibley, Special Projects Coördinator for Western State College.
The naming process for geographic features is complex, and involves a number of actions at the local, state and federal levels. Sanderson will explain the process, appropriately, at “Point 11,862,” on Saturday, October 2, following a hike there of interested parties. The hiking party will be limited to around 15 people, to avoid undue impact on the terrain.
Weather permitting, the trip to “Point 11,862” will begin from the top of Marshall Pass at 9 o’clock Saturday morning, Oct. 2, with plans to be back at the top of the Pass no later than 5 p.m. The round trip is about nine miles; the route follows both the Colorado Trail and the National Divide Trail (one and the same in that area), with many magnificent vistas down into the Arkansas and Gunnison basins (and into the Rio Grande region at the end). The trail is never particularly rigorous, although there are numerous uphill and downhill stretches.
Those interested in the hike and the naming project can contact either Ed Quillen in Salida at 719-539-5345, or George Sibley in Gunnison at 970-641-4340. Some transportation will be available from the Gunnison side.