I skied on my birthday yesterday. We finally got a dump of snow down here in Bend, but on Mt Bachelor and the Cascades theres lots of snow now. The parking at the ski park looked full but some people had left so I got a spot.
I had a little pack with full zippered fleece pants and a montebell down jacket, as well as a thermos of hot coffee, a canteen, spare hat, spare heavy duty gloves, 2 cliff bars and my GPS. My zipper pull compass and thermometer (from TomD) was on my jacket.
I noticed at the trailhead that NO ONE else had ANYTHING at all apparent on them that could be reffered to as "gear", not even a canteen visible, yet a huge number of people were skiing for miles and intended to be out for an hour or more.
I started down the main trail - a logging road in the summer - and then soon turned uphill on the west going trail that goes into the tall trees and a couple of miles out to a hut. I only saw one other person on that trail and he too carried no gear.
After a while I decided to cut throgh the forest to the main trail below me. I went quite a ways down slope and when I stopped to check my compass to be sure I was going west - OH SHOCK - my compass needle wold not turn!!!!
No problem, I turned on the GPS to use its compass and followed it for a while
until I realised that it couldn't get a fix under the tall snow covered trees in the snow storm,
and of course the GPS also did not know where my truck was.
So even though I would have hit a logging road had I continued down slope, I back tracked.
the point being. If you think you're lost, and you can see your tracks, follow them back. On backcountry skis this is pretty easy. And by the way, if you do ski on skinny trak skis, you should not head off into the deep and steep. It takes special skis and skills to solo ski off trail, AND you must be able to CLIMB on your skis. I no longer carry climbing skins unless I'm winter camping in really steep country where the one pound weight is justified as it makes going easier. Climbing on skis takes practice and muscle.