Edmonds’ Paddle Pilgrim: Kayaking the fjords of Norway

By Brian Soergel | Dec 07, 2018

There’s no quit in Edmonds’ “Paddle Pilgrim,” David Ellingson.

At age 70, Ellingson has just released his latest book, “Paddle Pilgrim: Kayaking the Fjords of Norway,” his follow-up to books tracing his journeys down the Mississippi River and across Erie Canal.

The new book chronicles a month-long paddle adventure on the Sogne and Hardanger fjords in Norway, where the author’s ancestors emigrated from to America in the 1850s. Ellinson said the narrative weaves together three elements:

Paddle: daily detailed accounts of experiences on the water and in the mountains (what happened?)

Ponder: reflections on those experiences and their significance (what does this mean?)

Pictures: award-winning photographs which bring the experiences to life (what did I see?)

Ellingson has taught courses in spirituality, environmental ethics, human development, and youth ministry at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett. He is a Lutheran pastor, master gardener, former distance runner, and father of five grown children.

“Paddle Pilgrim” is available in bookstores and in digital formats.

Here are three excerpts from “Paddle Pilgrim”:

“After a rainy night in our tents, we awoke to a beautiful but foggy morning. As I stretched on the water’s edge, through the mist came Victor, who had been out paddling for several days. He was wet but happy and said, “This is the best weather, because you paddle in the clouds. It’s magical!”


“As we rounded the bend from the Naeroy to Aurlands Fjords, the waves grew to a confusing chop pushed by winds, tides, and tour boat wakes ricocheting off the 2,000-foot sheer cliff faces. Pay attention, Dave! Paddle carefully – head into the large swells and watch for rogue waves.

“My spray skirt gave me some protection, but the waves began to break over my bow and I felt the chill of icy water gathering around my waist. Despite my vigilance, my direction became erratic. I shouted over the roar of the waves to Brent to come alongside and inspect my rudder. He reported it was ‘hanging by a thread.’ Moments later, it broke.”

One more:

“As I sit by this natal fjord, I think of Great Grandpa Johannes, but most of all of grandma Helen. I wonder if she ever dreamed of her native land. Even though she was born in America, did she wonder what life was like on the Hardanger Fjord as she put on her native dress, the bunad, and made lefsa, and romegrot and krumkake?

“As I traverse these holy waters, I have come to feel a deep connection with and care for this place that was once home to my family. In a very profound way, it is becoming home to me. I am home, Grandma, and wish you were here!”



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