SHARON TWP. — If ever there was a man who embodied the saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” it’s David Snyder.
The Medina resident spent about 2½ months canoeing 1,846 miles down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, from just south of Canton to New Orleans.
“It was actually about 20 years ago I came up with the idea,” Snyder said. “I don’t know where it came from. I just thought, ‘Wow, that’d be neat to do.’ ” With a family to raise and a job at Reiter Dairy in Akron, he said, he put the idea on hold.
“When I retired and the kids were raised, I said it’s now or never,” Snyder said. “So at the age of 60, I took off.”
Peggy, his wife of 39 years, said she was scared she might never see him again.
“The biggest thing was for his safety,” she said. “I just prayed for him every day.”
With a canoe purchased three days before the trip, two sets of clothes and 180 pounds of soup, water and Milky Way candy bars, Snyder set out along the Tuscarawas River on July 13.
“I didn’t know how to paddle when I left,” said Snyder, the owner of Snyder’s Tree Farm at 648 Medina Road. “It took me 10 days to figure out how to paddle. Needless to say, I got very good at it.”
He said he spent 64 nights in a tent along the rivers, broken up by the occasional night in a motel when Peggy would come to visit.
Through thunderstorms and extreme heat, Snyder said he survived the trip without getting sick or capsizing with a great deal of luck.
Next to finding a place to camp every night, he said the hardest part was being alone. He said he asked people to go with him on the trip, but no one accepted the offer.
“There’s a lot of time to think on that trip,” Snyder said. “It was very enlightening. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about life.”
Snyder now is hoping to share what he learned with the world. Throughout the journey, he said, he kept a daily journal of his travels, often breaking from paddling to write about the towns he saw and the dragonflies he befriended.
Now back home, he is typing up his notes to turn them into a book.
“I’ll try to get it published, but at least it will be a memoir for myself,” Snyder said.
Snyder’s wife, daughter and son-in-law flew to New Orleans to greet him as he pulled into the city’s harbor on Oct. 1.
“We could just see a little speck (getting) closer,” his wife said. “It was unbelievable that he actually did that.”
For her, she said a large part of her pride came from the fact he set his mind to do something and accomplished it.
“It’s really inspiring to think that you’re at this age and your dreams are still possible,” she said. “I think if he goes again, I might just accompany him.”
Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.