Laksforsen – The Monstrous Park and Huck

We met with Tuomas and Mikael as they were walking hurriedly down the side of the road next to the massive Laksforsen. I peered out the window to my left and the sight of the drop alone got my heart racing. This monstrous tourist attraction drops about sixteen metres in total over more than a hundred metres. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like much but bear in mind that the level can sometime exceed seven hundred cubic metres of water passing a point in one second, every second. That is great deal of water to be dropping that much.


As far as waterfalls go this one is quite spectacular. It starts off with a big rapid and then drops off at the end. There is a restaurant there and a fully stocked curio shop where I ended up parting with several hundred Kroner. The place also buzzes with tourists who paid little attention to us until Mikael, Tuomas and Juho got kitted up in their paddling apparel.


The Laksforsen.


The plan was quite simple actually. I would stand high up on river right amongst the tourists armed with a digital still camera, Sami would stand directly downstream at water level with a video camera, Tuomas would be on river left near the bottom of the rapid, also with a video camera, Juho would be nearby for safety too and Mikael would paddle the drop. Easy enough if you’re not Mikael!


The Laksforsen has been paddled from the top before but not at such high levels. There is a clean line from the top on the right but it ends in a really bad spot. So the only realistic option was to climb in at an eddy on river left about halfway down the rapid and then bomb down. Once Mikael, Juho and Tuomas got into their boats and made the ferry to the other side of the river the tourists got really interested. Of course I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but I’m sure something along the lines of crazy %$#&@*’s!!!


Mikael scouting the line.


I waited for quite some time as Mikael had a good look at the line. He scouted from a few different angles while Tuomas and Juho moved around to get the best shot to capture video footage. I noticed some huge salmon trying in vain to jump up the falls. Ah, a fly rod would have been super to have right there! They were absolutely massive and probably larger than the length of my arm. And no, I don’t have short arms.


Eventually they were ready and using some hand signals across the river everyone seemed ready for Miku’s descent. He climbed into his boat and I felt nervous for his sake. The drop was definitely incredibly intimidating and not something you would want to run upside down. But Mikael is a very talented boater and I was sure he’d stick the line. He peeled out of the eddy and paddled down. From my vantage point through the lens of the camera it looked reasonably easy but I’m sure it wasn’t really. His green boat plunged off of the final drop and he disappeared for a brief moment before emerging upright out of the steam. A massive round of applause erupted from tourists around me that had now just used up a weeks worth of photos on their cameras. It was a perfect run and I give a big thumbs up to Miku! Another big drop to notch up on his ever increasing list.


Mikael Lantto with a sweet run of the massive Laksforsen!


Mikael playing the fool after his magic run.


A last look from directly downstream.


From here on we further north, again. To Trofors, Mosjøen then Mo I Rana and slightly north east after this to a camp site just near the Ranaelva, the creek that Tuomas had had his eye on for tomorrows paddle. He had paddled it the previous year and judging by the pictures on his site it looks incredible.


We set up our camp and ate a hot meal and it wasn’t long before the rain started. It wasn’t hard though so we decided to scout another creek nearby, the Messingåga. With generally high water everywhere this little river was no exception. There was a lot of water coming down for such a tiny little river and it is super steep. It has been run before and it featured on some DVD. By walking alongside it I got the feeling that only the most talented of experienced of boaters should tackle this one. Miku was very keen on running some of the drops and we discussed a couple of them. No doubt about it I would take the photos if we came here the following morning.


Standard roadside scenery...


Yet another tunnel.


Our camp site, before the rain started.


The rain still fell from the heavens and we walked down to the car and drove to the Ranaelva to look at the lower stretch. There are some big class V drops there, some of which you have to climb down with ropes to get above the drop for a park and huck. Definitely drops for the hardcore. We made our way back to camp as the rain really started to come down.


The Messingåga is thick with action!


The Ranaelva at the main road bridge.


With nothing to do but head for the shelter of the tents we climbed into bed. The rain came down reasonably hard and rock steady, the entire night. Never in my life have I seen rain come down that consistently for that long. It was a chilly night and the rain interrupted some vivid dreams while I huddled deep into the sleeping bag. I wondered how high the river would be in the morning...






Photography by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated.

Words by: Adrian Tregoning.


Next article: Storforsen, Sweden. (And the drive back to Finland)