There's the strange fungus she picked up when she jumped onto the back of that 12-foot crocodile in Panama. She has a scar on her arm after being bitten by a monkey in Thailand-and scratches from an over-aggressive tiger cub on the same trip. The boils she acquired kayaking in the Philippines have healed.
In the Galapagos she would contract Dengue Fever from mosquitoes, possibly while crawling in muck to see eye to eye with a giant turtle on the island of Santa Cruz. ("I love mud," she said to our guide. "Can I go wallow in the mud with him?")
This, more than catching fish (or hunting big game), is what Garrison is all about. When she goes on an expedition for her television show, she doesn't just pursue animals, she engages them, as well as the local culture of the area. She's eaten bugs in Asia, hunted to provide food for tribal villages in Africa, and hunted with Aborigine spears in Australia. And she does it all, well, loudly.
Garrison is the human embodiment of the power chord. Wherever she is and whatever she is doing, bystanders can expect to hear enthusiastic yelling and laughter. "I just get that jump in my heart and the adrenaline," she says. "Ha! Ha!"
Blame it all on her parents. Garrison and her three sisters grew up in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco. But her time on her family's cattle ranch in Oregon ingrained the outdoor wanderlust she exudes today.
The entire family would escape to the ranch any chance they could, and take off on outdoor hunting, camping, and fishing adventures. "Whatever we did outdoors we had fly rods in our hands," says Garrison. "My sisters, my Dad. My Mom was a tremendous fly fisherman, as well. It got us addicted from an early age."
While her other sisters gravitated toward the corporate world in their adult lives, Cindy took it to the next level. "For me, I could never see myself doing anything but fishing for the rest of my life."
On her 23rd birthday, Garrison decided she was going to be a guide in Alaska. She headed North with $80 in her pocket. She hooked on as an apprentice at one fly fishing lodge, only to quit after realizing they never intended for her to do anything beyond cleaning toilets.
"I said to myself, 'I can go quit and go home or I can stay and get a real job.' I didn't want to fail," says Garrison. She hitchhiked around Alaska for two weeks, calling every lodge she could think of to try for a job. She got one, the first woman ever hired at that particular lodge-even as a cook-and guided in the Great Wilderness for six years.
"Then I got bored," she says. So what did she do? She moved to Botswana and developed a fly fishery for the African tigerfish.