Where we’re at: I’m sharing my journey in 2022, including this trip to Hunter, New York from this January! Look at me, blogging something in the same month it happened, as promised!
Growing up in Upstate New York, I had a major obstacle to overcome: I hated winter.
My mom told me that even as a very young child, I exhibited signs of seasonal depression and came alive again each year in the spring. I cured this the easiest way I knew how: moving to across the world to Thailand at twenty one and never looking back. Since then, my friend Steffi calls me her migratory bird. I came home when the temps were high and the sun was shining.
But, a few years ago, life unexpectedly brought me back around to the land of four seasons, and after months of bracing against reality, I finally started to warm up what my Capital Region neighbors had been telling me my whole life: to survive winter, you must embrace a winter sport.
I grew up skiing, and while I’d never been very good, I certainly got rusty after ten years of swapping snow for sand. My first time back on the slopes in a decade, I realized that it was indeed a balm to the winter blues — I was outside, I was moving, I was exploring. Three of my keys to happiness.
So, I made myself a promise: I would go skiing at least once a season. And I have. I started out that year with a day trip to Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts, followed the next season by a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake in California with my dad. Next, some of my Brooklyn friends came upstate for a weekend of winter fun and we skiied at West Mountain (still to be blogged!).
In 2022, looking at my busy schedule for the year ahead, I realized I’d be out of wintery climates for the bulk of the ski season — poor me, I know! So, basically, it was January or never.
Having really started to finally clue in to how fabulous Upstate New York can be in recent years, I’d developed a long wish list of places to go. So as part of my resolution to do more for me this year, I decided that despite my chaotic to do list and busy schedule ahead, I was going to carve out a few days for something special. And I was going to splurge.
Which is how I found myself at Scribner’s Lodge in Hunter Mountain, New York. Since dipping my boot back into the ski world, I knew that Hunter was the mountain for New York City residents escaping upstate. For me, it was perfectly located between my sister’s wedding in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and my next destination of Albany, New York.
After a busy holiday season, wedding, and New Year, I couldn’t wait to unwind for a few days somewhere cozy.
It was a three and a half hour drive from Philadelphia and I arrived to the tiny mountain town of Hunter after dark. I was a little disappointed to check in and find I was put in the wrong room, which meant I’d have to change the next day when Jess arrived — one of my biggest travel pet peeves is checking into a room for one night! (I’d also briefly considered booking two room types for the three nights as it was cheaper to do so but ironically decided against it for the inconvenience, ha.)
However, the staff was genuinely apologetic about it, and treated me to dinner and delicious cocktails at Prospect, their onsite restaurant, as a result. As Prospect is closed Monday and Tuesday nights, it was my one chance to try it for dinner, and I was glad I did.
But, back to the rooms — both were lovely. While some rooms have their own fireplaces, others have balconies and cozy indoor seating areas. My first room came with a bottle of white wine and homemade cookies, sent by my thoughtful sister as a thank you for helping with the wedding, and the next came with a bottle of red wine and s’mores supplies, sent by the hotel as a thank you for being chill about the room mishap.
The thoughtful little touches at Scribner’s were plentiful — like this hand-illustrated map of the area.
Which, after a morning of lounging, sipping tea by the fire, and soaking up the hygge vibes of the lodge, I set out to do a little exploring of the next day.
Mondays and Tuesdays are sleepy on the mountain, as one Prospect bartender had warned me. I didn’t mind. I drove the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it length of the town of Hunter, stopping to admire a few cute standout cabins, before doubling back to Tannersville, the slightly — emphasize on slightly — bigger and buzzier town ten minutes down the road.
I was sad to later learn that I missed my chance to check out the incredibly charming looking Fellow Cafe in Hunter, though I comforted myself that I already had something to look forward to for next time.
Tannersville was full of color in the daylight and I immediately clocked a cute yoga studio, a chic home design store, and plenty of charm. My favorite spot was Maggie’s Crooked Cafe, which featured green juices, overflowing salads, and tons of small town smiles.
I made it back to Scribner’s just in time for sunset, which, despite my melting iciness towards winter, I still resented the early hour of. Yet on this particular evening — or more accurately, afternoon! — I could hold no grudges.
I mean, wow.
It was one for the books, and I ran from one corner of the lodge to another soaking up every angle and running inside and then back out to face the biting cold just to get one last glimpse.
That night, long after the sun had set, my dear Jess made it down from Albany. Without dwelling too long on “what could have beens,” I’ll confess that I planned this trip originally as a romantic getaway that it turns out my enthusiasm wasn’t matched for. With my heart feeling quite bruised, I was tempted to cancel — wouldn’t it just be sad with someone else?
I’m thrilled to report that sat by the warm fire with a cold bottle of wine, laughing and catching up with one of my best friends, I was reminded that love comes in all forms. How wonderful to have those that show up for us in those moments we need to feel it most.
The next day, after breakfast overlooking the blue-sky-framed slopes, Jess and I made our way to Hunter Mountain. Jess had a similar ski and winter history to me — childhood full of it, adulthood resenting it — and was suspicious of my insistence that we purposely spend a day with icy winds in our face.
Like me, once we were layered up in our wildly activity-inappropriate wear, and sweating from the exertion of putting on our rental gear, Jess started to warm up to the idea, mentally and physically.
Truly, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. From the picturesque snow on the trees to the peak-New-York geological limestone rock formations to the dramatic icicles dripping from the mountain, I felt like I was in an arctic themed screensaver set.
Scenery aside, it was early in the season, and as we stuck to green and blue trails, we had limited runs. We carefully checked the online mountain map — can we not get a live on with the closed trails marked, Hunter?! — and would interview the attendants at every chair lift to make sure we weren’t getting in over our heads.
Three hours later, we’d done each run within our range a couple times. While we could have gotten back in the car and driven over to the West Side of the mountain, we couldn’t get there from the slopes without skiing a black diamond, so we opted to save that for another time.
After congratulating ourselves for lasting so long over lunch at the base of the mountain (which was nothing special by the way — why hasn’t a mountain like this with such a bougie crowd seriously glowed up their food and beverage options, I wonder!) we were back to Scribner’s to warm up, relax, and snooze by the fire.
And then we were back out into the wild winter for glice skating at sunset at Scriber’s Rink, with our reservation timing inspired by the previous night’s sunset show!
Here’s the hot (cold?) take: glice skating was not for us, though I am very willing to embrace the idea that we were doing something wrong. I was intrigued to read that it is considered an friendly alternative to artificial ice skating rinks due to it’s lack of need for water and energy to freeze said water, but we just couldn’t seem to get a glide going. Still, it was worth the laugh, the novelty, and the $5 skate rental, easy.
Much more our speed? S’mores and boozy hot chocolate by the many fireplaces at Scriber’s. We chatted to some of our fellow guests; a very international crowd for Upstate — I think by that point I’d heard four different languages spoken at Scribner’s, which was so fun! We loved hearing everyone’s perspectives on our virtual backyard.
With Prospect closed, and having enjoyed the Hyphen pop-up the previous night, we decided to go offsite for a fresh dinner experience. We didn’t go far — Hunter Mountain Brewery was just down the road. The real star of the show, however, was next door at Elevated Wine and Spirits, a must-stop for wine and spirit lovers.
It was so dang cute!
The next morning it was time to embrace our final Scribner’s experience: sunrise in the sauna! It’s free for guests, you just have to reserve a time at reception — which are easy to nab on sleepy mid-week days. We sprinted out in our bathrobes and basked in the warmth, the perfect note to end a wintery weekend on — and daydream about the retreat we’re cohosting together in a similarly steamy climate.
Except, we couldn’t resist squeezing in one last adventure on the way out. Kaaterskill Falls has been on my New York bucket list for ages, and it’s just ten minutes down the road from Hunter on the way back towards Albany. It’s the highest cascading waterfall in the state, dropping over 260 feet over two tiers.
We referenced the All Trails maps and after parking at Laurel House trailhead, went first to the overlook before continuing down to the base of the waterfall. It was the perfect length and difficulty level for the day’s cold chill. We couldn’t help but wonder how beautiful it would be on a sunny blue sky day like the previous one — but we were grateful to have had even one!
Skiing, skating, hiking — we really hit the cold weather trifecta of outdoor activities, with some cozy luxury scattered in for good measure. And I can’t tell you how well it worked at bringing a little wonder to my winter.
Jess and I talked later about how the memories of this trip really did fuel us through some dreary January stretches. It was powerful proof that it works — finding something to love and look forward to about winter, even if it’s just a few days here and there, really does the soul good. Having briefly considered cancelling the whole shebang for many reasons, I could not have been more grateful I stuck to the — admittedly altered — plan.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m even dreaming up a winter Wander Women Retreat here! It really was that good — I instantly wanted to share it with all of you. Which is why I’m so glad to be back here.
Are you a winter fan or foe? Tell me in the comments!