Living to tell about it, outdoor writer back at Mark Twain Center |

Living to tell about it, outdoor writer back at Mark Twain Center

Tim Parsons
Paul McHugh always seems to be one step from danger.

A longtime outdoor reporter and award-winning book author, Paul McHugh always carries with him a notepad, upon which he came up with a mantra: “Don’t be too careful or someday you might wind up an old man.”

McHugh entertained a crowd last summer in the Mark Twain Cultural Center with stories of adventures that nearly cost him his life.

He has a whole new batch of true tales for a Sept. 29 return engagement, “Quite Risky to A Bit Risque: Outdoor Stories I Could Never Write, Part II.”

McHugh was an outdoor writer for the San Francisco Chronicle for 22 years. He recently published “Deadlines,” a page-turner based on two of his investigative stories, using as characters some of the sources and co-workers he has known.

One of the stories McHugh said he will share at the Twain Center is about a snowstorm.

“I think up there everybody knows what it’s like to get into a cruddy situation and go ‘whoops,'” said McHugh, whose misfortune occurred just as he was about to summit Mt. Lassen.

“You think, ‘How bad can it get?’ Not only much worse than you imagined but worse every 15 minutes. The only thing that saved me was laughter.”

Laughter and adventure will be the theme of the night.

McHugh also will tell his story about being stuck on some remote islands off the southern coast of Chile with an inept guide.

“We got caught in an Arctic storm with 20-foot breaking seas and no clear sense of direction,” he said. “It was another one of those pivotal moments when only reaching deep or finding some strength or virtue saves your hiney.”

McHugh will tell three or four stories and then open up the evening to questions about his travails or writing or anything people have to ask.

That he has never drowned is perhaps the most amazing aspect of McHugh’s tales.

“I would prefer to go out slugging a polar bear in the nose, but it just may wind up clawing at the eyes of a great white shark; I just don’t know,” he said.

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