The quarter-mile trip down Mt. Niitaka needs considerably more care than the climb, because the trail up continues back down in a sort of extended loop, with its own set of challenges. Mind you, I watched an old Jeep Cherokee cruise by camp, having had no difficulties, and once or twice a day, an open Jeep Wrangler went past with a few tourists, its driver stopping now and then to tell his stories. A nice, narrow 4WD vehicle with high ground clearance is all that’s needed, and I’m sure even a 2WD vehicle with a limited-slip rear axle could make it up the trail I came down on.
2WD without a limited-slip diff, which I affectionately call “one-wheel drive”, well, good luck and make sure your spare tire is usable – should your vehicle prove unsuited and you insist on proceeding up anyway, you may slice or otherwise overtax a drive tire. Forget trailers of any type unless they are small, lightweight, and off-road specific – or you don’t mind dragging your converted cargo trailer over deeply embedded rock projections. It’s your money. The cell signal in this area is generally very good, by the way.
The trail as shown in the video below looks flat and featureless, but keep in mind that I’m picking the smoothest path down it. It’s practically a cruise in a small-enough vehicle, but get wider and longer, and you can start grounding things out. At a couple of points, it’s a choice of evils and there is no “best” path. Classic utility or sport utility vehicles will find it fun and very easy. Bigger, lower vehicles with overhang and more cargo capacity, not so much.
I decided to take the advice I’d received and lower the Ford’s tire pressures in an attempt to soften the jarring violence of 70 PSI when going over rocks. I’d noticed on a walk-through that some of the Read more…