World adventurer makes Manitoulin stop, shares his hope for the future

Markus Pukonen gives a wave as he sets off on the next leg of his journey from Little Current. photo by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT— Markus Pukonen of Toronto is at the start of a five-year odyssey to circumnavigate the globe without a motor, raising funds for small environmental and social justice not-for-profits he meets along the way.

The Expositor met with Mr. Pukonen along Little Current’s waterfront where his 17’ prospector canoe was tied to the town wall, a stopover before heading to the Tilson homestead in Honora Bay for the night.

“I plan to use as many different modes of motorless transport as possible,” he said. While the canoe is his first real start to the journey, he admits with a grin, “I did do some walking and dancing before I left (Toronto).”

Mr. Pukonen’s plan for Canada is to canoe to Thunder Bay, bike to Winnipeg, pogo stick across Saskatchewan then, depending on the weather, switch to cross country skis through the Rockies and on to B.C. From Vancouver he will stand-up paddleboard to Vancouver Island then take a dugout canoe to Tofino. From there it is a yet-to-be-determined mode of transport to San Francisco where the adventurer will then sail across the Pacific Ocean.

He explained that six years ago he was inspired to become more involved in environmental and social justice movements, realizing that he could not fully achieve this while just sitting behind a desk.

It was at this same time that Mr. Pukonen’s father was diagnosed with leukemia and given two weeks to live. He also learned of his sister’s pregnancy with his first niece. “It gave me pause for thought,” he said. “What is my purpose here, and Routes of Change is the answer.”

Mr. Pukonen has spent the last six years planning and saving to fund his odyssey, noting that there is never enough money. “Finally, you get to a point where you just have to go for it,” he adds.

He said he is looking for donations and sponsors to ensure that the organizations he’s working with, and will meet in the future, get some money from his campaign. To donate funds, or to sponsor a penny per kilometre (he’s estimating most months he’ll cover 750 kilometres), head to Mr. Pukonen’s website, www.routesofchange.org.

While this is set to be Mr. Pukonen’s greatest accomplishment, it certainly isn’t his first trek. The thrill-seeker has paddleboarded across the Georgia Straight, cycled from Vancouver to San Diego, spent 73 days rowing 3,000 miles from Senegal to the Bermuda Triangle (before capsizing—that Bermuda Triangle will get you every time), as well as paddling 85 miles down the Mississippi. Mr. Pukonen is very much a professional adventurer (oh, and he’s studied film, too. His drone will help him capture images of the journey along the way).

He guesses his biggest threat along the way will be the very thing he’s set out to avoid—motorized vehicles. That and falling in love.

“As I meet organizations along the way I will add them to my list of organizations to support,” he explained, adding that his trip will also act as a sort of marketing tool for them.

“It’s easy to commit to what you love,” he said of the next five years. “To me it just feels perfect.”

“The message I’ve been sharing is that there is no problem facing the human race that’s too big,” Mr. Pukonen shared. “We need to take the first steps toward solving them and big things can happen. Just keep taking those little steps and before you know it, you’ve made it around the planet.”

To donate to Mr. Pukonen’s organizations, or to keep tabs on the world traveller, visit www.routesofchange.org.