Tag Archives: huzzah

Float #79: Huzzah Creek

24 Jul

Hwy. 49 to Red Bluff

F79_Huzzah

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, July 13
8 Miles

We floated this section of the Huzzah back in March when the water was at springtime levels. Since this section of river was so close to our campsite we decided to try it again at summertime water levels. Admittedly, it turned out to be a slog of dragging and portaging but we still had a good time. We put in at the Hwy. 49 bridge access, turning off onto a dirt path on the north side of the highway that leads down to a gravel bar. Joining us on this float were our friend Jake from Nashville, DW’s brother Dustin, and our friends Greg, Charlie, Alex and Scott.

Huzzah Creek

Hwy. 49 bridge access

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Me

Huzzah Creek

DW jumps from the bluff

We spent quite a bit of time swimming on the first two miles of the trip. There were a few spots with deep swimming holes and one spot with a rope swing and a small bluff suitable for jumping. After the first couple of miles the portaging really started. There is a section of the creek that is very wide and shallow where we had to walk for a bit. After that the rest of the creek was littered with downed trees and strainers that we were unable to float around. Back in March the water was high enough that we could float over or around most of the debris, but there seemed to be a lot more debris in general this time. The creek did flood a few times between then and now and I think many more trees were washed into the waterway.

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Alex dodges a log

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Low water bridge

There is one low water bridge on this section and the water was low enough we could float under it instead of having to portage around. We weren’t the only people on the river that day. Some other people from our camp were floating as well, several kayaks and a canoe. I wouldn’t want to be in the canoe at that water level, the kayaks were difficult enough! Charlie, Alex and Scott stayed at the front of the pack, Jake and I were in the middle and DW stayed in the back with Greg and Dustin. Dustin was in the slowest boat to begin with, which he then loaded down with a heavy cooler. Somewhere near the middle of the float he lost a shoe (always wear shoes that attach to your feet) which slowed him down even more since it is more difficult to portage with one shoe! Even so, he was only about 15 minutes behind Jake and me.

Huzzah Creek

Strainers

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Approaching Red Bluff campground

Just above the Highway V bridge we came to the spot where the river-wide log jam was in the spring. The log jam had been washed out, so we didn’t have to climb over it. However, the debris just got spread over a longer area so we ended up climbing over it in individual pieces instead of one large obstacle. At one point the creek split around an island. The left channel required ducking under one log and climbing over a couple of others, while the right channel looked easier. Jake took the left and I took the right. Turned out the right was not easier! After the first couple logs, Jake had smooth paddling and actually came out ahead of Charlie, Alex and Scott, who had been in the front of the group. The right channel was nearly a constant portage of downed trees and driftwood choking the channel.

Eventually we arrived at Highway V bridge, two miles above our takeout at Red Bluff. There seemed to be more water down from V and we hardly had to portage at all. We should have put in there, but then we would have missed out on all that exercise and adventure! We all arrived safely back at camp an hour or so before dusk, with a story to tell and some new muscles.

Critter Count: Herons, Hawks, Turtles

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Float #70: Huzzah Creek

17 May

Red Bluff to Hwy. 8

F70_Huzzah

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, May 4
15 miles

Another weekend, another flooded creek float! The weather pattern has been almost the same every week this spring. It rains hard on Thursday or Friday and then there is a window of dry weather on the weekend. Thus every weekend the creeks and rivers are raging. This trip we caught the Huzzah on its way down. It was moving pretty quickly and the water was nice and choppy, but the flood debris was already flushed out.

We met up with our friends Charlie and Scott at Huzzah Valley campground and ran shuttle up to Red Bluff Recreation Area. Red Bluff doesn’t have an official boat access, but there are several spots to access the creek from gravel bars or the campground. We didn’t get on the river until nearly 2pm, but the water was moving so quickly that it was a breeze to finish the trip before dusk. We ended up paddling for less than three hours start to finish.

Huzzah Creek

Red Bluff access

Huzzah Creek

Red Bluff

Huzzah Creek

Low water bridge

F70_04

Once again the weather was cool with highs in the 50s. There was a light sprinkle from time to time, but nothing to really get us wet. There are three low water bridges to cross on this float. We had to portage the first two, but were able to float over the bridge at Hwy. Z. Several of us got pretty wet floating over the Hwy. Z bridge. It was a very splashy drop over the lip! This Huzzah trip was almost the exact opposite of the last time we did this creek. This time the water was fast, there were no trees or log jams to portage and we didn’t get soaking wet from the rain.

F70_05

Railroad bridge

Railroad bridge

The low water bridge past the RR bridge

The low water bridge past the RR bridge

Huzzah Creek

I think I have worn my life jacket more this spring than I have in the last 5 years collectively. Of course, you should always wear your life jacket if you aren’t experienced on the water, or you aren’t a strong swimmer (children under 13 are required by state law to wear one). I wear mine anytime the water is faster than I can swim to shore. I like when I have to wear my life jacket because I know it’s going to be a fun ride!

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

There was one tree the had fallen across the river, but there was just enough water for us to float over the trunk. I don’t think a canoe would have been so lucky. When we stopped for lunch on one of the few gravel bars above water we noticed a Bald Eagle in a tree across from us. He sat there and watched us eat our lunch and was still there when we left. These days it doesn’t feel like a real float trip if we don’t see a Bald Eagle! As we got closer to Hwy. 8 the clouds started to break up a little bit and we saw a patches of blue sky. The spring flowers were out in full force and bright green new leaves coated the trees. This time of year is so beautiful and it only lasts a couple of weeks before the forests are cloaked in summer vegetation.

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Hwy. 8 bridge

It seemed we reached Huzzah Valley in no time (and we kinda did). We passed under the bridge and pulled into camp. When we left that morning we could have floated right up to our campsite, but the water had dropped quite a few feet since then and we had to drag our boats up on the bank. It was a great float with good friends. The Huzzah is really fun when the water is moving.

Our next float is an overnight trip on the Current River, the first of the year. It should be lots of fun and maybe the weather will finally be warm and sunny!

Critter Count: 1 Snapping Turtle, Herons, Kingfishers, 1 Bald Eagle

Float #66: Huzzah Creek

16 Apr

Dillard Mill to Hwy. Z

F65_Huzzah

Huzzah Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, March 30
20 miles

I have floated the Huzzah lots of times, but never above Hwy. Z access. Since the water is up a little this spring, DW and I decided to float from the beginning of the Huzzah down to Hwy. Z. This was quite an adventure for such a little float stream. I don’t know anyone who has floated the upper stretches of the Huzzah, and from all the fallen trees, it doesn’t look like many people float it at all. 0.0 access is at the Hwy. 49 bridge. There is a muddy track off the northbound side of the highway that leads to a gravel bar under the bridge. DW and I wanted to get a few extra miles in so we headed upstream to the head of the Huzzah at Dillard Mill. Dillard Mill is a State Historic Site surrounding a red grist mill from the early 20th century. We parked in the main parking lot and carried our boats down to the creek, maybe a quarter of a mile. Dillard Mill is about 2 miles above the Hwy. 49 access. As we floated toward the highway, we came across a couple of groups of locals, hiking along the creek and hanging out. We got some weird looks, so I don’t think they see many kayakers on this part of the creek. We also saw a pack of four dogs roaming the woods. Three of them were very interested in who we were, the fourth was cautious and didn’t approach us.

Huzzah Creek

Hwy. 49 Bridge

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

An adult Bald Eagle

Huzzah Creek

A juvenile Bald Eagle

The creek was wider than I anticipated on the upper stretch and there were some tall bluffs after we passed under the bridge. The water was plenty deep until we came to an area of farm fields where the creek got very wide and shallow. Our first portage was in this area due to the water only being a few inches deep. Our first wildlife sighting was a pair of owls flying overhead into the woods. At the end of the farmland area we came across two Bald Eagles on the shore. One was an adult and the other a juvenile. The adult just stayed in the tree and watched us. The juvenile kept flying up and down the creek, always keeping us in view, until he settled in the top of a dead tree. We don’t get to see juvenile eagles all that often, so it was a cool experience.

Huzzah Creek

One of many low water bridges

Huzzah Creek

A shallow portage

Huzzah Creek

A log jam portage

Huzzah Creek

Soon we came to a low water bridge. I don’t know which road it was, as it was not on the river map. We floated over 3 or 4 low water bridges that were not on the map. The upper section of the Huzzah map is not very accurate, the mileage is not quite correct and many of the landmarks are not listed. If you are floating this section I would look at Google maps or a gazetteer in addition to the river map. You will have a much better understanding of where you are. After the first low water bridge we had many portages around fallen trees. Most of them were just too shallow to float around. We did come to one really big log jam that blocked the whole creek. That was tricky to carry the boats over because there was no ground under the trees, just deep water, so we had to get out of the boat onto a tree, carry it over and get back in standing on another tree. I don’t think we were on the main channel either. Somehow we had veered off, probably trying to get around another fallen tree. After we portaged the large log jam we saw the main channel on our left.

Huzzah Creek

Hwy. V bridge

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Red Bluff campground

Huzzah Creek

Red Bluff

Soon it started to rain, just a sprinkle at first, but it turned into a drizzle that lasted the rest of the float. Luckily it wasn’t too cold and I didn’t get chilled until my rain gear decided to leak near the end of the trip. We paddled under Hwy. V bridge, the only large bridge we passed, and one of the few on the map. Just downstream from Hwy. V is Red Bluff campground. Red Bluff is a forest service campground open from mid-April through mid-October. There are some wood log erosion control barriers on the left side of the creek that signal your approach to the campground. You can access the Huzzah from this camp when it is open, though there is a daily use fee of a couple of dollars per vehicle. Across from the campground is Red Bluff itself. It is a towering bluff colored red by oxidized iron. It is certainly the most scenic bluff along the Huzzah. It would have been nice to spend a little time here if it wasn’t raining!

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

After Red Bluff we paddled continuously until the end of the trip, trying to stay warm in the rain. We portaged over a couple more low water bridges and passed under a railroad bridge. With the steady rain, it was almost impossible to take any photos that weren’t blurry with moisture on the lens. We finally made it to Hwy. Z access, changed out of our wet clothes and loaded up our gear. We made really good time for a 20 mile float, but my arms and shoulders were pretty fatigued from all the paddling and the portaging. I think if I do more upper creek floats, I’m going to take my old red kayak. My yellow Dagger kayak is much heavier and I grew very tired of lifting it over trees all weekend!

Overall this was a really cool float and one I would gladly do again if the water was a little higher so we didn’t have to portage so much. The weather is starting to warm up a bit, but hopefully the rain keeps coming so we can do more 0.0 float trips!

Critter Count: Dogs, Owls, Bald Eagles, Hawks, Herons, Ducks, Kingfishers

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