Some Tips on Winter Hiking

Winter Hikers

When visiting Hilltop House B&B, the area abounds with some terrific places to hike! But hiking in the winter months adds an extra level of caution to both planning and going on your hike. Prepare for the unexpected!

To make your hike safer:
Never hike alone, use the buddy system.
Make sure someone knows where you are going and when your estimated return time is. Day hikers should be prepared to spend the night in the woods if necessary, a hiker may get injured sliding on ice, or an unexpected snow storm may come up. Be sure to tell the B&B where you are heading if going out for a winter’s hike and an estimated time when you will be back.

Some essentials to bring with you:
• A trail map
• A compass
• A first aid kit
• A flashlight or headlamp
• A multi-tool like a Leatherman with a knife
• Waterproof matches
• A space blanket or two (they take up very little room)
• Hand Warming Packets
• Waterproof boots, plastic is recommended as Leather freezes in cold weather.
• Vapor barrier socks
• Food and water, your body burns more energy hiking in winter then it does during the summer
• Dress in layers
• Avoid cotton
• Sun screen and chap stick
• Bring backup chargers for your cellphone (but be cognizant of the fact you may not have cell service) most smart phone have flashlights and there are some terrific outdoor apps that can be downloaded for use such as digital compasses and colored light flashing apps that may help a rescuer find you in the snow.

Additional Tips:
Carry your canteen upside down, Water freezes from the top down, if you carry the canteen upside down, it is actually the bottom where the water will freeze, not the mouth of the canteen.

White birch bark will burn even when wet and makes some of the best emergency tinder. A small container of Vaseline with several cotton balls serves double duty, cotton balls covered with the oil make excellent fire starters and the Vaseline is also very useful for protecting against windburn and skin chapping.

Some great additional winter hiking tips can be found at:

Snow Walker Bushcraft has some great winter survival videos at:

Some additional tips if you are stuck outside on your hike unexpectedly:
• Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
• If you need to rest, try to gather tree branches and boughs to sit or lie on, so your body doesn’t make direct contact with the snow.
• Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
• Prepare a lean-to, wind-break, igloo or snow cave for protection from the cold.
• If you don’t have time to prepare anything elaborate, try at least to make a shield from the wind.
• Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first when possible.
• Make yourself visible to rescuers.
• Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep the blood circulating and to keep warm.

A really terrific list (and instructions) on building wilderness survival shelters: Many of these can be made using space blankets, ponchos and tarps.

Some additional references:
Diagnosing And Treating Frostbite In the Field

Survival Skills: How To Make Ground-To-Air Signals in Snow

Winter Hikers


Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships Near to Amenia

Coming up again, on Valentine’s Day Sunday this year, following a Friday 2/12 and Saturday 2/13, packed with adventurous events like dog sledding, invitational ski-jumping and a Snow Ball Dance, is the 2016 Jumpfest.

Held in Salisbury, CT, just a snow ball’s throw over the Connecticut Border and north a short drive; the jump celebrates its 90th Anniversary this year!

To get in on the excitement, we’re firming up the details of our Hilltop House Valentine’s Day Promotion, a few enticements to help you brave the elements. (Think cozy, fireplace, snuggle up to…) So keep checking in and make plans to join us for a soothing, romantic Bed ‘n Breakfast weekend away.

Visit for more information.  The site is well designed, and has all the rest of their information for you. Enjoy! Hope to see you here at cozy Hilltop House for this great Valentine’s Day Getaway!


Quick Ski Trips to Berkshire Areas from NYC Train Terminus

Visit your kid at boarding school and catch a mini ski vacation? Think about it. Those mid-week hardly-peopled slopes? Sure you’re busy, but you need some time for yourself; we found the way.

3816400-royalty-free-photo-of-trees-loaded-with-snow-photo-taken-in-snow-stormMany of our guests visit Hilltop House to see children in boarding schools (Kildonan and Maplebrook here in Amenia) many others are a short haul away see our map. There are ski resorts nearby that are both affordable and fun. Forget overcrowded Hunter Mountain with its new 6-person chairlift!! (Right–get more people on the mountain!) Let us introduce you to Mohawk Mountain, Catamount Ski, and Butternut, chosen because we’ve skied all three and in the spirit of tri-state equality we present Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts accordingly. And for extra measure, check out our ski package with Thunder Ridge in Patterson on our home page. skiiers at base of Mohawk Mountain with hill in background and blue skyMohawk Mountain    24 minutes away / 17.3 miles from HTHBB
46 Great Hollow Road, Cornwall CT

Mohawk, as we posted earlier, invented snowmaking, something we don’t need right now. They have a great mid-week (non holiday obviously) $30.00 lift-ticket from open–9:30AM to close 10 PM. So you can spend your day well. Drive up to HTH the night before, make your meeting, and head out to CT over beautiful roads that the Appalachian Trail crosses by. Mohawk also offers what the others don’t a 4-hour pass, or an after 4 pass for those holiday weeks or weekends. Not highly challenging, but fine for fitting into a busy schedule.Catamount.trailmap14-15Catamount Ski    34 minutes away / 27.6 miles away  (it’s a great website)

78 Cattammount Rd., Hillsdale, NY

  • Catamount offers a non-holiday Monday and Thursday on-line only lift ticket for $20. How’s that for economy! For their night skiing they have 11 Easiest and More Difficult  slopes open–quite a bit. Their moguls on the other had are formidable on the Expert slopes, so make your appointment in the morning, and you’ll catch those mogul shadows far better. The slope is on the East side, so you lose the sun earlier than sundown at Catamount. They will discount tickets if you’re staying 2 or more weekend days. Rest of info is on their site. Not a lot around if only one of you skis, but you can travel over to Massachusetts–but wait for this one.

ButternutSkiButternut Ski and Snowboard    50 minutes away/ 34.6 miles
US 44, Great Barrington, MA 01230

  • Butternut is the furthest from Hilltop House, but takes you up towards the Lee Outlets, and is situated in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, so if you have a non-skier of two with you, it’s a terrific shopping mecca. (especially for aging Hippies or wannabees). Great, creative shops, a thrift store or two, yummy restaurants, and many things to involve one while the other is off skiing. It’s more than a few hours worth of worthy entertainment
  • Butternut is open 9-4 M-F; an adult ticket is $25, junior $20, and child $15 those days, so you don’t need any special rate. It has some challenging runs too.

So whether you’re coming up to check out a school, visit the dean, see the Hudson Valley wineries, or just hoping for a peaceful, stress-less time away. We can assure you your stay at Hilltop House B+B will be more than worth the trip! After all this snow–It’s all about that BASE!  And we got a lot of it.


Winter Motorcross at Lime Rock You Know You Want to do This

To paraphrase re: last weekend’s weather: A dangerous mix of ice, snow and rain coated the Northeast causing slick roads and many accidents. Road closures due to icy conditions plagued southeast PA through southern New England. A major pileup occurred on I-76 northwest of Philadelphia. More than 400 accidents were reported in New Jersey in one night!  With parts of VT, NH, western CT, ME and eastern NY  under advisories and warnings for wintery weather Sunday through noon yesterday,

What are you waiting for? Get your

“SLIDEWAYS” in gear!!!

Winter-Autocross-Lime-Rock-1Enter winter motorcross: We love Lime Rock Park for its motorsports, just up the road in Connecticut. We also love Mohawk Ski Resort in Cornwall due east. Mohawk, the home of snowmaking, invented in 1949 and first utilized back in 1950 on a snowless winter day gets mashed up with Lime Rock, where auto racing normally hits a seasonal hiatus. It seems to have re-invented snowmaking as a means to extend their season into a first-ever in the northeast–Winter Autocross!!!!

Starting this month (last weekend in fact) Lime Rock will offer Winter Autocross Days, Fridays and Saturdays open to any licensed driver.

Think of all those southerners flocking up to the safety and instruction of Lime Rock, never having swerved on snow before!

“First and foremost, driving hard and getting ‘slideways’ in the snow is simply a whole bunch of fun,” said Lime Rock lead winter driving coach Stephan Bastrzycki. “You don’t have to have any previous experience…you cannot believe what you learn of ‘car control skills,’” Bastrzycki continued. In the end you come out a smarter, safer driver. All the better for driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike!

Of course, they provide the 1,200 foot course, you provide your car. Lime Rock accepts any vehicle – all-wheel-, rear-wheel- or front-wheel drive – that can be driven quickly in the snow. Snow tires–which we hardly think of anymore—actually let you go faster. “We’ll teach some specialized techniques and the fun of snow driving appropriate to each vehicle type.”

The Winter Driving events –tagged “snowcross” or “WAX” (winter autocross) – are held in the upper infield area. Bonfire, hot chocolate provided. Three or four cars are sent out at a time, with appropriate spacing; there is no racing involved. Now anyone can autocross all winter long on the following schedule.

Lime Rock Winter Open Enrollment Autocross Days:
Friday, January 23
Saturday, January 24
Friday, January 30
Saturday, January 31
Friday, February 6
Saturday, February 7
Friday, February 20
Saturday, February 21
Friday, February 27
Saturday, February 28
Friday, March 6
Saturday, March 7

Cost: $300 per driver; includes coaching from professional winter driving instructors. Reservations can be done online. Questions can be directed to  860-435-5000

Come home to our warm fire at Hilltop House, and a cozy bed. If you haven’t been out in the dead of winter before, you’ll never sleep so well. Even if you have, come on up!!