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Meet Johnny Snyder: Kayaking Africa, America and wherever the water takes him


Posted by Joanna R under Kayaking on 21 March 2012 at 9:17 AM

I had a chance to catch up with old friend, a world-class kayaker - Johnny Snyder.  Johnny has a passion for spending time in very wild, remote places on the Earth. He has been active in outdoor living since 1985 when he began his career as an expedition leader. His love for the outdoors; paddling, mountain-climbing, biking and deep inner practices with Qi gong, yoga and meditation has helped him tap into the pure energy of life that he brings to all his professional services. 

I have been fortunate enough to paddle with Johnny on the Housatonic River, and he taught me the Eskimo roll many years ago.  His outdoor experiences and masterful leadership abilities have made him one of the most sought after guides atCanyon Ranch Heath Resort in the Berkshires and the Kripalu center for yoga and health. He and his wife Roshni and their kids live in the Berkshires when they are not travelling the world. 

How did you first get started with kayaking?  What was your inspiration? 

I started paddling around the age of 16, a younger cousin showed up with one during the summer of 1983, I had no idea where it would lead...after many failed attempts at cold water rolling we hit a gentle river down the road.... I went first and never looked back! That was the start and the first adventure, not being sure of how it would turn out, even though not as dangerous as things would get...really made me feel alive! 

What was your first big kayak adventure?

The first BIG adventure was learning class 5 in California, I had raft guided in Jackson Wyoming for a summer, kayaking when I could but not really learning what I would need to know, that next spring I went to Cally and stepped up to the world-class rivers that are still some of the hardest white water on the planet!

Where’s your favorite place to kayak?

My favorite place to paddle..... is the Zambezi River in Africa.  Warm giant water, so many details and ever changing levels....really powerful!

What makes you passionate about your sport?

I’m passionate about kayaking because it allows me to connect to the energy of life with in the power of the water.  Take water from your body and there is no life just dust left, if there is no water in the air you cannot breathe the air.  the magic thing we call life live with in the water molecule, also rivers cut natural highways through the earth and white water rivers protect what lies beyond, down river... I have had so many unique and special moments on the world’s secret hidden allows me superhuman power!

What did it teach you about yourself? 

Kayaking has taught me more than words can describe, there is a swagger one gets after returning from the wilds of a new land or discovering what comes from the inside when put to the test of life and has taught me not to take everyday life that society has place before us as the only option. Trust me intuition and to welcome horizon lines the unknowned!

Whether you are paddling for the first time or been into it for a long time there is always room for advancement and discovery, friendship and solitude. Kayaking is more than just paddling around a lake or shooting rapids; kayaking is connecting to the energy of life in a very natural way!  Also they should check out artist Jon Blond on itunes, he’s got some great river songs; Living the Dream, Gauley Glow and Private Paradise are some of my favorites! 

For new paddlers.... clubs or paddling schools help get you some good info without needing all the gear.... I host a workshop a few weekends in the summer at the Kripalu center...very good starting point, and most kayakers are friends that just haven't met yet!

Johnny is Challenging you to 3 kayaking Challenges:

1. Kayak one hour on a lake

2. Learn to do an eskimo roll

3. Kayak on a river for one hour

So Tribesports, where's your ideal unexplored river or lake? We want to hear from our adventure paddlers!