For the next five years, Markus Pukonen won't get on a plane, in a car, or aboard anything with a motor.
The 33-year-old has put the wheels in motion to travel the world via any motorless means possible.
Starting in his hometown of Toronto, Pukonen began his journey last July.
“It basically comes down to health. Health of myself and my family and the planet,” he says. “...What I am passionate about on the planet, which is being outside, going on adventures, challenging myself and travelling and learning and experiencing.”
Prior to this adventure, Pukonen lived in Tofino and spent his days surfing and making documentary films. He has an ambitious goal to raise $10 million to finance his five-year travels and benefit non-profit organizations as he goes along.
“Right now, I have partnered with six organizations, Prevent Cancer Now, p.i.n.e. Project, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, Transitions in Kenora, Atikokan Youth Initiatives and Clayoquot Action.”
Pukonen will use as many motorless means as possible to complete his circumnavigation of the globe.
“So far, I have canoed, hand-cycled, pogo-sticked, recumbent-cycled, skied, rafted, kayaked, bicycled and skateboarded,” he says.
He made the trek from Vernon to Kelowna on skis via the Okanagan Rail Trail Corridor and plans on going to Hope next, where he will float down the Fraser River to Vancouver before heading to Vancouver Island.
“At the moment, it is pretty much just me. I get by with friends who join me, and strangers become friends and family pretty fast,” he says. “I realized the best way to do this is be very flexible with my planning, so I am open to opportunities that arise.”
One of those opportunities is crossing the Pacific on a sailboat, thanks to word of mouth that connected him with a friend of a friend in San Fransisco. This spring, Pukonen will sail from San Fransico to Hawaii and then the Marshall Islands and Philippines, eventually landing in Hong Kong.
“I’ve been offered hundreds if not thousands of rides – and even from people who I told I am not getting a car ever. They want to drive down to the store, and I tell have to tell them: no, I have to walk.”
He says people take for granted always using a motor and fuel to get around.
“But the big thing I have learned is that … people are super generous and compassionate, wherever I go.”
Pukonen has raised $15,000 since launching the non-profit society Routes of Change last year. Along the way, he has been asked to speak to students and the public about his trek.
He hit a roadblock in Kelowna when his ski boot broke, meaning his journey to Hope will be postponed.
Pukonen is looking for help finding size 44 Alpina Alska 75 mm boots, as well as funds for his project.
To follow Pukonen on his journey or help his cause, check out routesofchange.org.