Lapland Highlights: Myllykoski rapids and Oulanka National Park

Welcome back, fellow adventurers! During our Lapland road trip, we made our way from Saariselkä back to Rovaniemi via Oulanka National Park to see the Mill at Myllykoski rapids, a place of serene beauty. Nestled amidst the pristine wilderness, we stumbled upon a scene straight out of a fairytale - a charming house perched above a river, adorned with a mesmerizing display of pancake ice swirling in graceful circles in the river below.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is this pancake ice phenomenon? Allow us to shed some light on this natural marvel.

Pancake Ice: Nature's Artistry

Pancake ice, as whimsical as its name suggests, is a remarkable sight that often appears in the icy waters of polar regions during the winter months. These circular ice discs resemble oversized pancakes floating on the surface. They create an eye-catching spectacle that is fascination to watch, especially in this case since the pancake ice was slowly dancing in circles - round and around. Every now and then one of the pancakes would almost escape and then be caught again by the current, only occasionally one would get away to be swept down the river and out of sight.

But how does nature conjure up such a spectacle?

Each ice disk has its own unique pattern of cracks, bubbles, and ridges, crafted by the whims of nature and the flow of the surrounding waters. The formation of pancake ice in rivers mirrors that of its oceanic counterpart - just on a smaller scale.

In sea water pancake ice typically forms in areas with a combination of low temperatures and turbulent ocean currents. As the frigid waters begin to freeze, slushy ice crystals form, then start to aggregate and gather in clusters. This process is facilitated by collisions between the crystals and the movement of the water. The clusters collide and meld together, growing in size and eventually forming circular discs that are gradually taking on the characteristic circular shape of pancake ice ranging in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter. As the pancakes bump into each other, their edges may become rounded due to the continual freezing and melting of the surrounding water. This gives them their characteristic pancake-like appearance.

So, in the case of a river like the one in Myllykoski, pancake ice forms through a similar process, albeit in a freshwater environment. The complex interaction between temperature, water flow, and freezing processes leads to the creation of this natural event.

Oulanka National Park

Now that we have unraveled the mysteries of pancake ice, let's talk about Oulanka National Park. Just up the river from the swirling pool of pancake ice you will find an old Mill, which is the main attraction in this area. In case you don't want to venture here on your own, there are travel companies offering snowshoe excursions. We arrived in the afternoon mid-February - just in time to miss all the tourist groups and to see the beautiful light preceding the sunset.

Walking down the stairs to the river proved to be a bit difficult as they were covered in thick layers of ice and snow and were in some places barely visible. We decided to return to the car to get our snowshoes, which made the short hike a lot easier - spikes would also have come in handy, which we have already added to our list of things to bring to our future Arctic Circle trips.

You've successfully subscribed to Phototastic World
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Phototastic World
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Unable to sign you in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.