Highlights of the Griffin King of the Hammers course.
1 Soggy Lake. Desert racers usually have the bravado of a fifteenth-century explorer, especially with precise GPS in their cars. But when rains turned the normally dry Soggy Lake bed into a real soggy lake bed, officials designed a "re-route" for that section. Concerns were raised in the drivers' meeting that some racers wouldn't be able to find their way. A KOH official then quipped, "Perhaps they might want to consider circle-track racing."
2 Spooners' CANYON. New to the KOH, this trail was blazed for the first time on New Year's Eve 2008. Two off-roaders looking for another trail got lost during the night and broke down. Fortunately, they were rescued the next morning. The trail gets its name because the pair kept warm overnight by "spooning" together in subfreezing temperatures.
3 Hero of the day! A lone spectator from Washington named Joe "Bunk" Bunker hiked to the top of Aftershock, hoping to watch his friend drive by. Instead, he saw Ken "Doc" Mercer become trapped after rolling his single-seat moon buggy. Transmission fluid leaked over the headers, igniting a large fire. Bunker ran to the accident scene and used a multitool to cut Mercer's safety belts and pull him out before the fire completely engulfed the vehicle.
4 Twentynine Palms. One stretch of the racecourse bumps against the border of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, better known as Twentynine Palms. With more than 930 square miles, it's already the military's largest base, but the Marines want more and are considering adjacent properties. Officials say they need the land to support a massive, live-fire training exercise that could involve three battalions - or 15,000 Marines - moving abreast.
5 Means Dry Lake. Access to this area is off State Highway 247, or Old Woman Springs Road, named after one of the area's Native American settlers when government surveyors arrived in about 1850. Mining, ranching, and farming in the area were all unsuccessful for the next 100 years. After World War II, hundreds of five-acre homesteads were settled but most failed to prosper, and the few that remain eventually established the Johnson Valley community.