Tag Archives: huzzah conservation area

Float #142: Courtois Creek

27 Apr

Berryman to Huzzah Conservation Area

F142_Courtois

Courtois Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, April 1, 2017
14 Miles
Temperature: 59˚/40˚
Wind: ENE at 8mph
Water Level: 3.5ft. at Steelville gage

Courtois Creek is always a nice spring float. It tends to get pretty shallow in the summer so you have to hit it up when there has been some decent rainfall. It’s been a few years since we did this river and my sister Emily and her family had never paddled it before. We put in at the Berryman access (Hwy. 8 bridge). Since this is a repeat float I’m not going to get into specifics, but if you want more details, check out Float #63.

Courtois Creek

Berryman Access

Courtois Creek

Tree hazard

Henry navigating the tree hazard

Courtois Creek

Emily paddles Stable Maybel

Courtois Creek

As we put on the river the weather was overcast and a little chilly. Emily and I and the kids waited at the put-in while DW and Henry ran shuttle. Henry paddled “Marge the Barge,” his 19′ aluminum canoe with Celia and Silas. A 19′ canoe is quite the vessel to paddle down the tight turns of the Courtois, but they did just fine. There are a few tree hazards on upper section of this float that you have to duck under or portage around. The first one we had to duck under, Silas didn’t quite listen and bonked his head. He finally got the routine down by then end of the trip though.

Portaging the canoe and the kids

Courtois Creek

Marge the Barge on Wheels

Courtois Creek

The sun comes out!

On this trip we saw a fair amount of wildlife. There was a mink scuttling around on the bank at the put-in. Celia thought it was a hedgehog, so she was close, just the wrong side of the globe for hedgehogs. We also saw quite a few deer; a couple of them were swimming across the river. The usual assortment of birds and turtles were in attendance as well. The sun finally came out in the early afternoon, which made for a much nicer float and really brought out the colors of the water.

Henry’s big canoe is quite heavy and nearly impossible to portage easily. He has devised a canoe dolly from some milk crates with wheels that he attaches to the bottom of the canoe to get it from the car to the river. It also works quite well to get over low water bridges. They didn’t have to unload the kids either!

Celia shows off her paddle skills

Courtois Creek

Confluence with the Huzzah

We stopped on a nice gravel bar for lunch and built a small fire to warm up a bit. We stopped once more to let the kids out of the boat to play a bit. Silas tried his luck at peeing in the woods by himself. It was not a complete success and he had to get rinsed off in the river! Eventually we made it to the confluence with the Huzzah and then to our take-out. A 14 mile float is a pretty long trip for a couple toddlers, but Celia and Silas got out of the boat at the end and ran around the parking lot while we loaded up. So I guess they still had energy to burn! It was a good day on the river and nice to get back to the Courtois before the summer crowds.

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles, 1 Mink, 7 Deer.

 

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Float #33: Huzzah Creek

4 Apr

Hwy. Z to Huzzah Conservation Area

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Monday, March 26
12 Miles

As March drew to a close I was desperate for a day off work to go do something fun. Monday was a good day to do that as my Aunts, Marcia and Libby, and my youngest sister, Abby all had that day off work. Poor DW had to spend the day surrounded by female in-laws, but we’re cool people so he had fun anyway!

The Huzzah is a big creek/small river that runs through Crawford county. There are only 30 miles of the Huzzah suitable for floating and only 13 of those have enough water to float most of the year. The Huzzah gets its name from a garbled spelling of Osage, a prominent native tribe in the area. There are a lot of place names in Missouri that come from Native American names, translated into French, and then into English so that they sound nothing like the original native name!

Just a reminder that although the Huzzah is a beautiful and peaceful float in the off-season, don’t go there on a weekend during the summer. It’s the go-to float for drunk college students. It’s crowded, gross and obnoxious.

huzzah river, hwy z access

Bridge over the Huzzah at Hwy. Z access

huzzah river

Duck or portage?

We put on the river just after noon. My Aunts took the red canoe and Abby took my old red kayak. This was Abby’s first time kayaking and my Aunts’ first trip in a canoe in several years. Abby did pretty good, she didn’t fall out and only got hung up once at the first turn. Marcia and Libby also did well maneuvering the 17ft. canoe around tight turns and tricky log jams. They did a lot of 360˚ turns in the eddys and a lot of giggling when they got through an obstacle. Thus they were the “giggle boat.” At the low water bridge crossing Abby was the only one who ducked the bridge and floated through (go Abby)!

huzzah river

huzzah creek

Spring colors in the forest

huzzah river

huzzah creek

huzzah river

After we passed the Hwy. 8 bridge and Huzzah Valley campground, we went through “The Narrows” of the creek. This is a short, but very pretty section where the water is swift and the creek is spanned with curving sycamore trees. We stopped for lunch on a gravel bar soon after. My family knows how to eat and we always bring too much food. There was plenty of fancy cheese and fresh veggies to pass around after DW and I finished our smoked pork loin and goat cheese wraps. Just because you’re on the river doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the goodies!

There were a lot of turtles out sunning themselves as the day was really warm. We saw both soft shell and hard shell varieties. The air was so warm that I had to go swimming a few times, even though the water was still winter cold! We also saw a Bald Eagle in a tree who had just caught a small fish. He didn’t like the look of us and flew off to finish his dinner before I could snap a photo.

We pulled into the Huzzah Conservation Area before dark and were home around 8:30. It was a long, but fun day. Having hiked Hamilton Hollow on Sunday and then floating Monday made for an exhausting Tuesday back at work!

huzzah river

huzzah river

huzzah river, huzzah conservation area

Huzzah Conservation Area access

 

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Geese, Ducks, 1 Bald Eagle (with fish)

Float #23: Huzzah Creek

22 Sep

Hwy. 8 Bridge to Onondaga State Park

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, September 17
9 Miles

After 4 weekends of floating in a row we took a week off and then I immediately experienced float withdrawal. I am not looking forward to winter when the dark, cold, kayakless days stretch on forever. To remedy my withdrawal I planned a trip on the Huzzah Creek for what was supposed to be a sunny, warm Saturday. However upon waking up Saturday it was discovered the day was not to be sunny at all or warm, but rather wet and chilly. I used to dislike rainy float trips, but since I’ve owned a kayak (especially one with a decent waterproof skirt) I kinda like them as long as it isn’t pouring. We met our friends Charlie, Alex, Scott and Megan at the Hwy. 8 bridge access. This access is directly across the water from Huzzah Valley Resort. There is limited parking under the bridge if you want free access, or you can pay Huzzah Valley to park at their place. We got started on the river around 11am in a slight drizzle. Right before we pushed off DW and I saw a bald eagle fly up the valley. Outside of some herons and an osprey that was pretty much the only wildlife we saw all day.

huzzah river, hwy 8 access

Access under the Hwy. 8 bridge

huzzah river

huzzah river

huzzah river

If you’ve ever been on the Huzzah in summer you know how crowded it can be. The Huzzah is a popular float destination for the party crowd. During a busy weekend the creek will be bumper to bumper with rafts full of  drunk, loud people. The banks will be full of trash and the water will be a murky, dirty mix of beer and piss. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? However, in the spring, fall and winter the Huzzah is quiet and secluded and water is crystal clear. The water can be low during dry spells in the fall and winter since the Huzzah has a small watershed, but you can usually float from Hwy. 8 down to the Meramec. A few bends down from the access we came across two canoes cleaning up the river. They had already collected a couple of tires and lots of cans. It’s always nice to see someone else doing a river cleanup on their own! Especially since we can’t haul out tires on our kayaks. A couple miles into the float the creek narrows and runs under a canopy of trees and arching trunks spanning the water. It is the prettiest section of the entire creek.

huzzah river

huzzah river

huzzah river

huzzah river

After the narrow section the creek widens quite a bit and we came upon a nice bluff bordered by a slough full of lily pads. Soon after that the Courtois Creek comes into the Huzzah. The Courtois (pronounced coat-a-way) is an even smaller creek that is great to float in the spring. It has lots of tight turns and obstacles near the top that makes for a fun float in a kayak. The Courtois was pretty low when we passed. Charlie paddled up a little bit and was scraping in low water right away. After the confluence it started to rain again. I bought a neoprene skirt for my boat back in the spring, but I never had a reason to use it until this float. It’s really tight to fit on the boat. I needed help to get it stretched around the back, but I’m sure it will loosen up if I use it more often. The neoprene really made a difference and repelled water like a champ. We soon came upon Huzzah Conservation Area, which stretches between the Meramec and Huzzah. There is a low-water bridge and an access on the right side. Usually you have to portage around the bridge or float over if the water is up. This time we were able float under easily because the water was so low.

huzzah river

huzzah river, courtois river

Courtois & Huzzah confluence

huzzah river, huzzah conservation area

Low water bridge at Huzzah Conservation Area

huzzah river

huzzah river, shiba inu

Portrait of a man and his dog

Not long after the conservation area the Huzzah flows into the Meramec. Remember those ducks that held us up for food last float trip? Well they were here again. We were surrounded and yelled at by a troupe of greedy ducks on the Meramec. Alex gave right in and fed Charlie’s sandwich to them. Poor Charlie had no post-float snacks. Yadi was very interested in the ducks and thought perhaps he should feed them, to himself.

huzzah river

huzzah river, meramec river

Huzzah & Meramec confluence

meramec river

meramec river, ducks

Alex & Charlie feed the ducks

meramec river

After we got away from the ducks the rain started to drizzle again and the take out came into view. We loaded up our boats and ran shuttle, then everyone headed back to my house (which is only an hour away) for a big spaghetti dinner. Next week DW and I are going on a four day trip and will be doing some overnight camping on the river. This will be the first time we’ve done an overnight in our kayaks. I hope everything fits!

Critter Count: 1 Bald Eagle, Blue Herons, Green Herons, Osprey

Bonus Prize: 1 Bass River Resort coozie

Float #3: Huzzah Creek

29 Mar

Hwy. Z to Huzzah Conservation Area

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, March 20
12 Miles

Looking to creep down an overcrowded, urine filled creek in a plastic raft while getting shitfaced with 500 other 20 somethings? This is the float trip for you! However, if you prefer solitude, clear water and nice scenery then this float trip is also for you. Huzzah Creek is a peaceful and scenic float trip in the spring and fall, and a nightmare of drunk fuckery in the summer. As long as you avoid the party crowd the Huzzah is a quiet little stream of beautiful water, wandering its way through the Ozark foothills. The drive is only one hour from my house, which makes for a perfect Sunday float stream. Warm weather propelled us to leave the homestead and head deeper into good float territory.

What better way to spend the Spring Equinox than a float trip! Temperatures soared into the low 80s with partly cloudy skies. Perfect weather for swimming, but the water temperature did not agree. A step into the water yields ankle numbing results. We met up with our ‘yak buddy, Scott and his adorable Shiba Inu, Yadi around 11am and ran shuttle up to the Hwy. Z access.

Preparing the boats for launch

The access is actually on Huzzah Creek road, off Hwy. Z. Just turn at the tree with the road sign stuck through it. This access does not have any official parking, so put in at your own risk, though we haven’t had any problems yet.

Yadi practices his yak riding skills

We don’t float this creek too often, so it is hard to remember where the obstacles are, or which side of the fork to take. I usually take the safe option, but Scott and DW are more adventurous than me. Scott did manage to flip his boat a couple of times going through a choked channel or two. Of course, that could have been Yadi’s fault as this was his first float of the season and he fell out every time Scott hit a bump or low hanging branch. By the end of the trip he seemed to get his float legs back under him.

A windy day makes for interesting clouds

Little snake tries to warm up

There had been a lot of rain the preceding weeks, making the water swift, but surprisingly still clear. Unsuitable swimming weather meant we paddled most of the way and knocked out much of the trip before lunch. The wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, but it was behind us most of the way. I had expected to see a bald eagle on this trip, as we usually do in the spring, but none appeared. We did see a lot of hawks and many turtles sunning themselves. No one else was on the river, just a few people hanging out in picnic areas along the bank. We made good time and were off the river by 4:30, shuttle finished and headed home by 6. Since this trip the weather has turned cold again, but there should be lots of floating to come in April!

Floating around the bend

Critter Count: Hawks, Turtles, Ducks, 1 Small Snake