Markus Pukonen is currently circumnavigating the earth without a motor for the next five years with his Routes of Change project. He is raising support for local non-profit organizations as he propels himself by as many modes of transport as possible, including canoe, pogo stick, hand cycle, and skateboard. Follow him @routesofchange and see his track at routesofchange.org.
In July of 2015, I started a five year journey around the planet without a motor with a mission to help create a sustainable way of life on earth. Leaving from where I was born in Toronto in a canoe, I have since paddled over 800km, sailed and pedalled a trimaran 500km, hand cycled 750km, pogo sticked 10km, and tricycled 1600km to arrive here in Canmore this month.
When I first came to the Rockies after escaping high school I had my life in a backpack and my new home was a hike up the mountain at an alpine lake, Lake Agnes. This lake would change my perception of water forever. To this day, I feel more at home in these mountains than anywhere else on the planet. I found my health and happiness in these peaks and valleys but I travelled on in order to find my purpose. Arriving back in the Bow now, 14 years later, with my life on a tricycle might seem to some like I’m still searching.
I first arrived here in 2001 depressed, cynical, and searching for a truth that I did not find in school or most of the world around me. I’m not sure of the exact moment but it didn’t take long for me to acknowledge that I could never live in Toronto again. The Lake Agnes Teahouse was my home, my work, and my life for three long, heavenly summers. Drinking water straight from the lake, climbing to the alpine in minutes from my door, sipping tea with friends and enjoying a view across the Bow Valley to summits that I scrambled up, one at a time.
They say these mountains are filled with wandering souls and perhaps that’s why I feel at home here. It could also be the fact that I am mostly made of water and I survive by breathing air. Toronto: dirty. Mountains: clean.
Arriving back to the Rockies on an 1800 day journey around the planet without a motor seems appropriate somehow. I’ve found a truth I can believe in and a dream to live, while embracing my wandering soul. My appreciation for the natural world, and my gratitude and compassion for humans everywhere, was inspired amidst these peaks and now I return on a voyage with the goal to help transition humanity to a sustainable way of life. I’m doing this in the best way I know how, by pursuing my passions and sharing my experiences with the world.
I feel I owe my life to these mountains. I might have never learned to appreciate and be grateful for my life if I hadn’t found my smile and spirit cradled amongst these peaks. For now it’s time to travel on once again, this time on skis to the coast. I leave in peace knowing that these mountains will be here for a long time, and that next time I return, I might not leave.
Read about Markus’s gear selections for his ski across the Rockies and BC from Canmore to Vancouver.