There we were, lost in the middle of the forest at 10,000 feet. We’d hiked all day the day before, having flown in from sea level just the day before that, so we were tired. We’d followed the trail easily enough for the first two hours of our hike from Ouzel Lake, but now, just a mile from Thunder Lake, it sort of disintegrated into a hundred different sets of footsteps wandering off across the thick snow cover in all directions. We did our best to pick out the trail, but pretty soon we found ourselves standing in the middle of the woods saying, "Now what?"
It might not have been so bad if it hadn't been raining. And snowing. And hailing. It might not even have been so bad if there had been less than four feet of snow on the ground. Or if we were able to take more than twenty steps across said snow without punching through to our ankles, to our knees, or even occasionally to our hips. Or if our packs had weighed a little bit less, enabling us to crawl out of the the little snow sinkholes more easily.
I've done a fair amount of backpacking before, and I'd have to say this was the closest I've ever been to worried. We were fortunate that we had a decent map and knew how to read it. We were lucky that we happened to know we were between two streams, and that the trail was somewhere downhill. And we were damn happy when we finally found the campsite and were able to stop walking.
All in all it was a great trip. And it's getting better. Like most backpacking trips, I'm often wondering "why do I do this to myself" when I'm out there, but by the time I get back it's already turning into a fond memory. Some pictures here.