When two fish researchers' smartphone led us unnecessarily across the Minidoka County desert, I cheerfully endured a jarring hour of rocky dirt track. Who wanted to be back in the office, anyway? I preferred a lovely morning on the desert to a desk and a keyboard.

Hauling a canoe, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game truck probably looked strange to the coyote hunters we passed. No water in sight. Just sagebrush and merciless rocks.

I was glad that freelance photographer Ed Glazar and I had abandoned my car shortly after leaving the pavement and climbed into the Fish and Game rig.

Eventually, we emerged from the long detour to learn that a perfectly nice gravel road led directly to our destination on the south side of Lake Walcott. Even then, I didn’t think a reproachful thought. I was all pleasant tolerance and camaraderie.

Call it a deposit in the Bank of Dignity and Magnanimity. A little emotional credit.

I was about to drain my account.

Our goal was a small island near the lake’s shore, where the two Fish and Game employees would scan pelican droppings for fish tags. The water had receded enough that the researchers concluded wading was more practical than the canoe. But I was prepared for this with rain boots.

Though we’d wade through just a few inches of water, fisheries biologist Kevin Meyer warned me about the mud below that. He suggested linking arms for the crossing.

As he and I started across, I stepped carefully to avoid slopping Meyer with muddy water. Too carefully. A tiny hesitation caused one foot to sink a little, and when I tried to free that foot the other disappeared rapidly in the mud. Within moments I was mired with the water rising to my boot tops. Meyer had to return to shore and set down his gear so he’d have both hands free to pull me out. Unbalanced by swells of laughter, I almost fell on my face as I waited.

Weighed down by camera gear, Glazar did even worse. During my troubles, I caught a glimpse of him crawling out of the water on the knees of his borrowed waders.

For my second crossing attempt, I pulled on a pair of Fish and Game wading boots much too tall for me. And much too large. I folded them down, leaned over to hang onto the wad of rubber above each knee and determined to walk as quickly as I could.

This time, Meyer gripped the top of my backpack. Like a marionette held from above, I flailed through the water until he deposited me on the island.

Meyer and his Fish and Game colleague had no trouble with the wading thing.

They were all pleasant tolerance and camaraderie.

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