We went into the trailhead yurt, bought our trail passes and looked at the map. The guy behind the desk suggested that I go on a loop that went along the side of Saddleback Lake but cautioned me to stay off the lake ice. Charlie headed off to the groomed nordic ski trails while I headed off on my snowshoe trail.
For a while, I kept along what I thought was the shore until I decided that I had indeed missed the trail. I pulled the map out of my pocket and figured out if I headed away from the shore I should come upon it. So I headed through the puckerbrush. If I may be honest, a little bit of "I'm a superhiker" arrogance did come over me. I thought "How hard can it be--the trail must be just through those bushes, trees and blowdowns."
It was much harder than I expected. I climbed over trees, crouched low under branches, sank in deep snow--there was hardly room to maneuver and I didn't seem to be making any headway when suddenly I sank up to my knees, the snow collapsed around my legs and I couldn't pull my feet out.
All the reading I have done about winter hiking disasters did help me stay calm and assess the situation, although I allowed myself one plaintive cry for Charlie. I sat down on the snow and noticed that my feet were starting to feel really wet. I used my hands to dig the right snowshoe out because it seemed to be the one that I could move a little bit. The left one was stuck fast. Once I got my right foot free, I took it out of the snowshoe and used that snowshoe to help dig. The snow around my left foot seemed to be freezing solid and I had to hit it hard to get down to where I could see my foot. Once I could see my foot I still couldn't lift it. I decided that the snowshoe must be stuck under an underwater root or tree and my best hope was to get my boot out of the snowshoe. Just as I freed my soaking wet boot, the snow that I was sitting in started to slide and I got up in a hurry and headed back the way I had come with only one of my pretty purple snowshoes tucked up under my arm.
When I got back to the lake or shore or whatever I had originally been on, I felt safe--I could walk back to the yurt in wet boots. It would be uncomfortable but the day was warm and I am the mother of strong children and the daughter of strong parents so must be kind of strong myself. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, I crashed through snow and ice and this time it wasn't a creek but the lake. I think panic might have set in then because I don't remember much except knowing that I had to move fast and light. Somehow--I lost the other purple snowshoe. Once warm and safe and trying to remember what had happened I think that the purple snowshoe might have caught on the ice and kept me from going deeper into the lake--so maybe it saved me.