CapU grad travels the earth without the aid of motor transportation
Markus Pukonen had a ways to go – 30 kilometres, to be exact. It was getting darker and the metre-thick snow on the ground had dramatically slowed down his pace. He wasn’t getting any closer to his destination, but he sure was getting closer to throwing a sleeping bag and making camp at a ditch. Skiing over the Rocky Mountains was unforgiving, but Pukonen didn’t relent. He kept going, until he finally saw a light beaming from a nearby mountain resort.
This has been the ongoing theme of the 33-year-old’s global trek. No matter the circumstance, he won’t resort to using any sort of motor or engine in his travels.
His mission is unbreakable.
It took six years before the Capilano University graduate was finally able to start his plans. After all, circumnavigating the planet while following a route that will accumulate a total of 80,000 kilometres (twice the circumference of Earth) is no easy task — particularly when the expedition bars the use of any sort of motors.
Pukonen isn’t shy to admit that the project was initially stalled by his lack of big expedition and filmmaking experience, and that the six years it took to get his plans off the ground were spent gaining that experience. During that time, he was able to take part in month-long expeditions across oceans, as well as completing CapU’s Documentary Film Production program.
In July 2015, he finally went for it. “I may not have the perfect plan, or I may not [have got] the funding until I was a place where I didn’t want to do this anymore because I’d be too old, so I decided I’d just go for it,” Pukonen said.
Currently in Kelowna, he will soon be crossing the Pacific Ocean, looking to land somewhere in Asia.
However, his expedition isn’t entirely a mission of self-fulfilment. Pukonen is the driving force behind his organization, Routes of Change, and throughout his travels, he’ll be seeking stories, people and grassroots non-profit organizations that could use as much support as they can get. He’ll be filming documentaries that centre on his adventures and along the way, he’ll share his experiences travelling motor-free, to help further educate the general public about ways to develop a sustainable planet.
“I want to basically, get more people, the people who are not necessarily interested in environmental or social justice, I want to sort of slowly bring them around in realizing that the little things you do can have big effects,” he said.
Thus far, Pukonen’s motor-free travels have already resulted in him using some odd and funky ways of getting around. He’s used multihull boats, rafted and even rode a pogo stick for about 10 kilometres. “I thought that it might be the stupidest thing I do,” Pukonen said about the pogo stick, “but I thought that it might also be the smartest thing I do, for the very sake that the media tends to latch to that.”
Unsurprisingly, maintaining a high fitness level is one of the more significant elements of Pukonen’s expedition. “It’s physically demanding and grinding,” he admitted. Yoga and a healthy diet are important aspects of Pukonen’s preparation. He also enjoys surfing, particularly when the time permits. It’s also of note that the expedition itself acts as a form of training.
As for his meals, Pukonen primarily carries lightweight food. He hasn’t had the opportunity to gather and forage food supplies from forests yet, particularly due to the limitations in resources that the winter weather provides him.
One of the questions that’s often asked of Pukonen centres on his will to continue without giving in to the temptation of getting into a car, a bus or a cab.
His answer is always the same.
“I really do not struggle to find motivation to do what I’m doing. It’s exactly what I want to be doing on the planet right now, it’s what I love doing,” he said. “When time does get really tough and really hard, I have a way of appreciating that challenge.”
Whether it’s an uphill snowy mountain, a rocky terrain or even an ocean, Pukenon’s motor-less travels will continue. He embraces every challenge presented to him and copping out has even become his greatest fear. The only motor he’s using throughout this global expedition is organic: it’s himself.
Pukonen’s travels can be followed at Routesofchange.org, as well at his social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, all under the Routesofchange handle.
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