Routes of Change – Markus Pukonen – Year 3
Back in early 2015 we received a call from Markus Pukonen seeking sponsorship for an adventure he was about to set out on. Honestly I have to admit that when the words “travel all the way around the world with-out the use of a motor”, I was skeptical. Skeptical that I had a sane person on the other end of the phone. Markus persisted and even though he didn’t have much financial backing for such an epic adventure we soon realized that what he may lack in financial backing he had an abundance of spirit, knowledge, experience and ambition.
Often people say that they don’t have time for great adventures, I say that great adventures make time for you in their experiences. You need to, “Live the adventure” often, vs make room for it. Markus is a true adventure and was named one of 100 Canada’s Greatest Explorers by Canadian Geographic along with Adam Kreek back in 2015 for their four-person CWF Africa to the Americas Expedition; their boat capsized after 2½ months of rowing and collecting ocean data.
Hearing about Markus’s past adventures and seeing the documentary films Capsize and Stand Up Puddleboarding opened up our eyes to just what type of adventurer Markus really is… and thus our sponsorship and relationship with Markus was formed.
We ask that you follow Markus at the links at the end of this article and offer your support anyway you can.
Q&A session with Markus
Markus may be half way around the world (literally, South Sumatra, Malaysia right now!), but that didn’t stop us from reaching out to him to see how his adventure is going. We sent Markus a series of questions about his epic adventure, Routes of Change, that’s taking him around the planet without the use of a motor. Not only have we been following Markus for the last 3 years as he traverses over 30,000km
Q. Markus, tell us who you are and what brought you to wanting to do this grand adventure?
A. I spent most of my twenties working seasonally as forest firefighter and then traveling around the planet in my spare time on a tiny budget. I came to see firsthand how our lives in the developed world are affecting and harming the lives of people everywhere. I started making changes in my own life: shrinking my ecological footprint and learning more about social and environmental justice issues. I started to feel like that wasn’t enough and that I needed to do more to help.
Then my dad called me and told me he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and given a few weeks to live. I asked myself “What would I want to be doing if I found out I was going to die? What is my most honest expression on this planet?” On my flight home to be with my Dad I came up with the Routes of Change expedition. It’s a combination of everything I’m passionate about, expressed as honestly as I know how.
Q. What is Routes of Change?
Routes of Change is a circumnavigation of the planet without ever using a motor in support of a sustainable future. As I adventure around the planet, I am inspiring the public and students with my presentations and supporting local non-profits I connect with. Small steps can lead to big changes.
Q. Where did your Adventure start from? Why did you choose that location?
I started from where I was born in the Beaches of Toronto. It’s also where the ashes of my parents lay and where I have an awesome community of support. No better place to start such a journey.
Q. What was it like starting out on such a grand adventure?
It was super stressful before I started but the second I took that first step it felt perfect! After 6 years of dreaming I was finally doing exactly what I wanted to on this planet. I was ready to die without a single regret. It was surreal.
Q. What did you take with you when you started?
An Algonquin Outfitters canoe!
Q. Tell us about Crossing Canada? How did you do it, how long did it take?
I canoed, sailed a trimaran, handcyled, pogosticked, tricycled, skiied, rafted, kayaked, and SUPed across the country in 8 months.
Q. What were the ups and downs?
The best moments were due to all the fellow friends and adventurers that joined me across the country. Over 20 different people joined me for legs across Canada and the majority were badass women!
The scariest moment (of many).
Some family came to visit me at a ski resort that was along my route across BC. I skinned (ski uphill with fur on the bottom of skies) up the mountain and then skied down to the bottom. As my brother-in-law and I were skinning back up we were stopped by ski patrol and told we had to get on a snowmobile to be escorted off the mountain as what we were doing was not permitted. I told them what I was doing and that I can’t travel by motor. They thought I was lying and said that if I didn’t get on the chair lift or snowmobile than they were going to call the police. I was ready to ski into the forest and go on the run from the police in order to uphold the integrity of my trip. It was the scariest moment of the trip for me. Thankfully, after a couple tense hours, they looked at my website and realized I wasn’t making up an elaborate lie, and they let me skin back up to the village and my family.
Q. How did you cross the Pacific Ocean?
On a 30 foot (9m) Sailboat. Over half of the 14,000km journey (one year from San Francisco to Hong Kong) was solo.
Q. What is it like to be half way around the world on a 5 year journey.
It still feels a bit surreal at times. Am I actually doing this? Yes I am and it feels amazing.
Q. What would you change, what was the hardest part?
I wouldn’t change a thing. No regrets. Hardest part was sailing through Micronesia with a flesh eating bacteria attacking my body and thinking I might have to amputate my leg or worse.
It’s hard to say what is the biggest challenge. Being away from friends and family is tough at times but I can usually communicate with them and also convince them to come join me for legs of the journey. I carry my loved ones with me. It is often a big challenge to find good healthy food and the space to calm my mind and stretch my body. I search out local farmers’ markets wherever I go and I’m always on the lookout for yoga classes, sports games, and quiet spaces. Falling in love and saying goodbye is tough. I’m always honest but that doesn’t make it easier or less painful. If it feels like the right thing to do, I will end the trip for love.
Q. What has been the best parts of this journey?
Meeting amazingly kind and hospitable people everywhere I go. I love humans more than ever. Always extra special to get visits from friends and family back home too!
Q. What do you plan on doing when you are done?
Apart from finishing the book and film I plan on growing food and a family.
Q. How can others follow, support, participate, make a difference themselves.
Join me on the adventure and get some awesome perks while contributing to the crowdfunding campaign. https://igg.me/at/rchange
Be weird. Be healthy. Be the change. Volunteer at a local organization you find inspiring. Buy food and other goods that come from businesses and people that you want to support. Vote with your dollar. Be conscious of how your actions influence and change the world around you. Use your privileged position and the power you have to influence and change this planet for the greater good. You are powerful! Enjoy it.
Routes of Change Gallery
Randy Mitson- Algonquin Outfitters
Handcycling in Ontario, www.routesofchange.org
Pogosticking 10km through Winnipeg
Pogosticking 10km, www.routesofchange.org
Recumbent Tricycling, www.routesofchange.org.jpg
Skiing across British Columbia
Skiing across British Columbia, www.routesofchange.org
Canoeing with Nieces, www.routesofchange.org
SUP under Golden Gate
Sailing across the Pacific, www.routesofchange.org
Sailing solo away from Hawaii. www.routesofchange.org
Sailing solo away fron Hawaii. Credit Austin Hunter
Sailing across the Pacific Ocean. www.routesofchange.org
Bicycling Laos credit www.routesofchange.org
Markus Pukonen bicycling in Laos. Credit_ routesofchange.org
Markus Pukonen bicycling in Laos credit_ www.routesofchange.org
SUPing across Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Routes of Change Video Blogs
Routes of Change Across Canada
Markus is traveling 80,000km around the planet without ever using a motor because he believes a sustainable world future is possible. In 8 months he has canoed, trimaraned, hand cycled, pogo sticked, bicycled, tricycled, skied, rafted, kayaked, SUPed, and danced his way across Canada, from Toronto to Tofino. In addition to sharing his vision of change at schools and public events he is partnering with local environmental and social organizations who are dedicated to creating a healthy future for all of us.
Welcome to the Routes of Change Channel
Welcome to the Routes of Change Channel. Subscribe now and catch a new video every Sunday at 6pm EST. Peace.
Around the World without a Motor – Episode #1
This is how it all started. Subscribe to see how it continues. A journey around the planet without ever using any motorized transport. No planes. No trains. No Automobiles. Just epic crazy adventures. Enjoy!
In a Canoe with Rein – Ep #2
The first few days with Rein in a canoe on Lake Ontario. With the Algonquin Outfitters’, Swift Prospector canoe.
Locked Up with Rein – Ep #3
Rein and I journey up the Trent-Severn Waterway. If you’re curious to see the exact route we took please see the map at https://routesofchange.org/route/
Support an Epic Adventure Happening Now!
Help Markus produce an inspiring film about a 5 year journey around the planet without ever using a motor.
www.indiegogo.com backers will receive rewards like a copy of Markus’s book or film, the chance to be a part of his epic adventure by joining him on trip, have presentation or dance named after them or even a frigg’n saleboart!
I’m Markus and over the past 3 years I’ve been muscling my way 30,000km around the planet without ever using a motor. The Routes of Change vision is to bring people together to inspire and create changes to help us all live happier and healthier lives. I’ve been sharing this vision with the public and students at presentations while supporting local non-profits. This is more than an epic adventure. Bring the film to life and join me as I continue around the world on my way back to Toronto.