A Life

Born amid Hurricane King (his dad piled rocks into a Jeep to give enough weight so it would stay on the road at storm’s height while driving his mom to a rural hospital) and raised near the Everglades, Paul McHugh parlayed an early life of adventure into renown as an outdoor writer and author. From 1985 to 2007 he edited the Outdoors Section of the San Francisco Chronicle. That beat covered environment, resources, sport and adventure. His price-winning stories ran in all parts of the paper, including investigative reports on abuse of public land that were published as a front-page series. McHugh’s features have also appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury-News, as well as many other magazines and journals.

McHugh hasn’t merely written about people in hot pursuit of adventure, but leapt into that chase himself. Major exploits include: membership on the first U.S. National Kayak Surf Team as it won a world championship in Ireland; heli-skiing off the crest of the Rockies; big wall climbing in Yosemite; leading a team of kayakers on a 400-mile sea-voyage from Oregon to San Francisco Bay; running marathons; plus making Class-V oar and paddle voyages down whitewater rivers – especially running 276 miles of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon to celebrate his 50th birthday.

McHugh’s media and publishing credits include: a pair of video documentaries produced for PBS, “The Eel, Life of a Threatened River” (1982) and “Return of the Desert Bighorn” (1984); a novel, “The Search for Goodbye-to-Rains” (1980, Island Press); a non-fiction book, “Wild Places – 20 Journeys into the North American Outdoors” (1996, Foghorn Press); a non-fiction book, “The Islands of San Francisco Bay” (2006, photographer James Martin published, McHugh supplied most of the text); a non-fiction book, “Alcatraz – the Official Guide” (2007, The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy); a novel, “Deadlines” (2010, Cypress House, winner of Best Mystery from the National Indie Excellence Awards, and from the Bay Area Independent Publishers).

A professional life in the media zone has equipped McHugh with the skills to perform on radio, television and the public-speaking circuit. He regularly appeared as a commentator on outdoor topics on live-TV at KRON, channel 4 in San Francisco (1994-5); he gave keynote addresses at the Trails and Greenways Conference (2007), the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute annual dinner (2009); and gave a series of visiting writer lectures at U.C. Davis (2010). Post publication of “Deadlines,” lengthy radio interviews were conducted with: Michael Krasny on KQED; Rick Kleffel on KUSP; Russell Sadler on Jefferson Public Radio; and Jeff Callahan on Capitol Public Radio. In addition, besides stints of community theater, McHugh has mounted solo performance of original oratory at: the Mark Twain Cultural Center at Lake Tahoe; the Art Center in Gualala; the Siskiyou Mountain Foundation in Mount Shasta; and the Solano Library Foundation in Fairfield.

Since the wild world is his school, McHugh doesn’t believe he’s yet graduated. However, he won a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State University, with an emphasis on poetry and a minor in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa).