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Adventure man


October 2013

When Tim Cahill was 9 years old and living in what was the "wilds of Waukesha" in the 1950s, he often dreamed of exploring "the second woods."

Cahillís home on the city limits bordered on a cow pasture, beyond which were the "first woods" that adjoined the exotic and forbidden "second woods."

"As I got older, I was allowed into the first woods," Cahill recalls. After he repeatedly came back home unscathed, his parents permitted him to realize his dream and venture into the second woods. Little did he know what travels were to come.

That set the tone for a career of writing about exciting and sometimes dangerous adventures. Cahill fell off a cliff while hiking alone in the Queen Charlotte Islands on the Canada/Alaska border and was chased across the Sahara Desert by warlords in Northern Mali.

"That was intense," Cahill recalls.

He was one of the founders of Outside Magazine, which came about while he was working as a reporter for Rolling Stone, the parent company of Outside in its early years.

"There were two of us at Rolling Stone who liked to write about the outdoors. We were appointed to come up with Outside."

Cahill admits he was a rookie in the wilderness at the outset and soldiered through initial stories on ice fishing in Wisconsin and looking for ancient ruins in the forests of Peru. But after spending years writing a best-selling book on serial killer John Wayne Gacy, being among the flora and fauna was the perfect literary elixir.

"When a certain type of book sells, the publisher wants you to write another. I didnít want to write about every whack- job that came down the pike. Thatís not psychologically good. I made a conscious decision to stay with the outdoors."

Cahillís multiple books, which include titles such as "Jaguars Ripped My Flesh" and "Pecked To Death By Ducks," and articles feature humorous prose about his incredible excursions. He set the Guinness World Record for driving the full length of the American continents piloting a GMC (sponsor of his venture) Sierra pickup from Tierra Del Fuego in Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 23 days, 22 hours and 43 minutes, shattering the old record of 56 days.

"We had to grease the border guards in 12 different countries," Cahill says. "You could get held up for days getting passage into those countries.

Cahill, who lives in Livingston, Mont., is "pushing 70" now but still regularly contributes to Outside and is planning another major adventure, another foray into "the second woods" for 2014. "Iíve never climbed Kilimanjaro. I can still do that next year."


This story ran in the October 2013 issue of: