After a while they reached the edge of the swamp. But which way to go next?
“Why don't we head for half a day in one direction and if we don't find the ring of birch trees, we double back and go the other way” said SirBaltimore, demonstrating his backwoodsman's skill.
“No, no, no” said Windy the MU. “Lets go one way and keep going. That's the way to do it”
And so they set off, West, for a day's travel. After another day travelling, the forest-swamp edge wound round to the north. After another day they were giving up and ready to try to cross the swamp.
Conditions around the swamp were so misty, that they couldn't see anything in the way of landmarks, even after climbing a tree. They didn't know how far they had to go through the swamp either. They ventured in, but after 30m they realised that this was a bad idea. They had no chance.
They carried on, pretty much going north by now. Toward the end of the day, they were hampered for further progress by a creek, ahead of them. They camped out.
The next day, they followed the creek to the east. Eventually, they ended up back at the big clearing, where the Caverns of the Lost City were. At least they weren't lost anymore.
They edged around the cleared, anticlockwise to find the wide tree with red bark. Then due south.
Dehydrated, half-starved and exhausted tehhy stumpled upon the ring of birch trees.
Handily, Hywyl the Green the elf woodsman was around and tended to their problems. He got a fire going, gave them water, made up some food for them and fashioned some better natural clothes than they had managed to make for themselves.
After a nights sleep and more hearty nursing from the elf woodsman, the party figured they had a choice: they could head back to the Caverns, naked, armourless, weaponless. Some of the party decided this would be a good idea. They could beg to join the gnolls and live a life of servitude to whatever cause they followed.
Or they could head have Hywyl lead them back across the swamp to the village, stay in a comfy bed, have some nice food, re-arm and regroup.
It was a tough call