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Teapot Dome

KF7URE's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Good digi echos

Monday, November 23, 2015, KC8WF and I (KF7URE) hiked to Teapot Dome W7I/SR-163 to do SOTA.  Teapot Dome is a desert peak at 4,712 feet high, north of Mountain Home, Idaho.


Getting there: From I-84 Freeway go north on Highway 20, 7.1 miles to Teapot Road (dirt road).  East on Teapot Road 2.4 miles to spur road toward base of cliff.  On the spur road, travel about .1 mile near the base of Teapot Dome toward a fence. Park in a cleared area that is free from tall grass to prevent rangeland fire.  And park away from cattle trough, so cattle can get freely access their water. FYI, in photographs KC8WF is wearing a dark grey jacket with black pants and I am wearing a olive sweater or red wind breaker with tan pants.


The hike had no trails going to the peak, so it was cross-country travel up the rocky terrain for about 1.5 miles each way. The route we chose was on public land administered by the U. S. Bureau of Land Management. When we started, the temperature was about 30 degrees. Perfect for hiking this type of terrain.  We hiked northward up a gully bearing to the right side of gully. At the first plateau, I got my APRS first signal from my 5 watt handheld radio upon my daypack reached a repeater.  From the plateau, we went west to Teapot Dome summit. We found an easy hand climb through the large cliff boulders on the northeast side to access the summit.  APRS transmission continued to work fine on the summit.


Once upon the summit we found a geocache, explored the views with binoculars, set up our antennas, and connected our KX3 radios. The summit is a flat top about 75 yards by 35 yards in size with rock/boulders and three small bushes capable to secure a mast.  We had 10 to 15 mph wind with an increasing overcast cloud cover over the summit.  I used a 10 meter / 32.8 foot mast with 35.5 foot wire and 9:1 unun sloping to the east.  KC8WF used an Alex Loop antenna. I incorrectly used email from my DeLorme InReach (Iriduim) to self-spot, which failed to send.  My second SOTA Chaser, W7RV placed activation spot for me.  Thank you W7RV! After that a pile up began for me. KC8WF used his AT&T cellular phone with LTE signal with 3 bars to self spot on top of Teapot Dome.  Sloper wire antenna from mast seemed to be receiving and transmitting better than the loop antenna.  We both had successful SOTA communications throughout the United States with 10 watts. My brother (KB6CIO) / my SOTA  elmer too, was monitoring our first Idaho SOTA communications from California.  Unable to clearly contact us on HF, KB6CIO sent a text message to my DeLorme InReach with excitement and congratulations of hearing our chasers and our success.


This was my first SOTA in my home state of Idaho and KC8WF first SOTA.  A few things I learned:

- Trekking poles were extremely useful for cross-country travel, especially on loose rock going downhill.

- I used about 18 ounces of water, but I carried 62 ounces.  For short winter SOTA day hike, I can reduce my water to 40 ounces to cut weigh and safely have reserve.

- When using DeLorme InReach (Iriduim) to do self activation spot into SOTAWatch send by SMS.

- Even with only 10 watts and on different HF bands there was RF interference between our two radios. So we had to move opposite ends (~75 yards) of the small summit.

- One single "ROK Strap" worked perfect to quickly secure my 10 meter mast to a large rock.

- Upon summit, eat before beginning SOTA activation and use wind break when possible.  Once one starts, you do not want to stop. By my 14th contact, the winds increased and the sky was completely overcast with clouds.  Temperature was dropping  at the summit.  I was cold and hungry. I stopped and ate my sandwich and added a parka. KC8WF had eaten a sandwich just before activation, used a large bush as wind break, and out lasted me.


It was a nice and successful SOTA adventure and we were safely traveling back home on the Teapot Road by sunset. Thank you for all my SOTA Chasers: N1GB, W7RV, N4EX, NG6R, WA2USA, N0EVH, W0GTL, KD0MQO, W0MNA, W0ERI, N8BB, W4DOW, K4YA, and KD0IPI for your patience as I learn. You made my SOTA activation possible and a positive experience!