Pictured (L to R) are Joel Perry and Braxton Smith, Winona Lake residents, who are kayaking from Winona Lake to Louisiana. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union
Pictured (L to R) are Joel Perry and Braxton Smith, Winona Lake residents, who are kayaking from Winona Lake to Louisiana. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union

WINONA LAKE – Winona Lake friends are making a kayaking journey from Winona Lake to Louisiana.
Braxton Smith, 25, and Joel Perry, 26, said they have known each other for four years and met through mutual friends.
They left on their kayaks Wednesday at 10 a.m. at a pier on the east side of Winona Lake, and are heading for Louisiana. They have been planning the trip for the  past six months.
“We were on a previous kayaking trip and talked about quitting our jobs and going on a trip,” Smith said. “Every weekend up until this trip we went on kayaking trips on the Eel, Tippy, Wabash and Elkhart rivers.”
They both informed their employers two months ago that they were quitting their jobs to go on the trip.
They will journey on Walnut Creek and Tippecanoe, Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans.
Smith has a GPS system and compass on his phone to help guide them and track their speed and distance traveled. They have a snake venom kit, knife, axe and machete, life preserver vests and camping supplies. They will camp along their journey and have hammocks.
They will carry a military ammo box that Smith built. It has two 12-volt batteries and a speaker that is waterproof and will allow them to charge their cameras, phones and laptops.
They have an air compressor that hooks up to the box that helps filter water.
They also built a wooden contraption in the kayak that serves as a cutting board when they catch fish. They also have a solar panel that mounts on the back of the kayak.
“We have all the hardware and grocery stores marked and gas stations and rivers marked,” Smith said.
“We are taking off with no gear and then our friends will meet us down on Tippy  River with our food and gear,” Smith said.
They hope to find work down south in Louisiana, and return to Winona Lake next summer.
“We are thinking about working on the oil rig in Louisiana,” Smith said.
Smith said his goal is to encourage others to kayak.
“Hopefully this motivates others that anyone can do it,” Smith said. “We go on kayak trips all the time and its hard to get people to come out.”
“I hope to get some kayaking experience through this and share what we are doing with others,” Perry said.
People can follow the friends on Facebook under their names for photos and video postings.
Smith is the son of Brendt Smith, Winona Lake, and Jean Emenhiser, Columbia City. Perry is the son of Tony and Kathy Perry, Warsaw.