Routes of Change founder and one of Canada’s top explorers Markus Pukonen arrived in Tofino by canoe last week. His sister Jen Pukonen and his nieces Ocea and Rio Green who reside on the Coast joined him for the paddle from Meares Island to Tofino.

Tofino local travels the globe

Pukonen’s self-propelled journey spurs global change

  • Mar. 17, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Nora O’Malley

Routes of Change founder Markus Pukonen cruised into Tofino for some rare rest and relaxation before gearing up for the next leg of his epic circumnavigation of the planet without using a motor.

Pukonen, who was named one of Canada’s greatest explorers by Canadian Geographic, kayaked with a friend from Vancouver to Nanaimo, biked to Port Alberni, SUPed the Kennedy River, canoed Kennedy Lake with his sister, and then paddled his way down the Tofino inlet before meeting his nieces and their Dad on Meares Island.

“They got in the canoe with me and my sister and we canoed the last couple kilometres to Tofino. That was awesome,” Pukonen said of his nieces.

Pukonen shared footage and stories from his self-propelled journey across Canada at the Clayoquot Community Theatre on March 9.

“I feel so good. I feel like I’m doing what I was supposed to be doing on this planet and it translates into my body,” he said. “I’ve been surprised at how well my body has held up. I think a lot of that has to do with my mental state.”

Since kicking off his journey in Toronto on July 13, 2015, the intrepid 33-year-old has pogo sticked 10 kilometres through the streets of Winnipeg, ski toured 700 kilometres through the Kootenays, and sailed a trimaran across Lake Superior.

“It’s a pretty interesting boat. It sails if there is wind, but if there is no wind you can paddle it or you can pedal it. The paddling doesn’t really work well because the outriggers get in the way, so I ended up having dead flat beautiful canoeing weather for a lot of Lake Superior and ended up having to pedal this thing. It was hard on my knees,” he said.

“I did get some sailing and some really crazy weather, like ocean sort with two-metre waves. It sort of felt like the West Coast on Lake Superior. There are white sand beaches.”

Pukonen left the West Coast on March 13 from the Tofino Village Green and the next leg of his journey involves sailing a 1968 Alberg sailboat from the California coast to the shores of Hawaii. Pukonen has lined up a friend to sail with and describes their vessel as a well-respected offshore cruising boat built in Whitby, Ontario.

Routes of Change is a non-profit society created by Pukonen as a way to support leaders of positive change in the world. Inevitably, his quest has inspired people to use more sustainable modes of transport.

“My big goal of this trip is to reach the large general public who could care less about the environment or the value behind the environment and sustainable living. To a lot of people that word doesn’t mean much,” he said.

Anyone interested in learning more about Routes of Change or to sponsor Pukonen on his circumnavigation of the planet, can visit:

Pukonen studied documentary film making at Capilano University with the goal of making a film and webisodes of the Routes of Change project. He’s also writing a book about his five-year expedition around the globe, which incidentally, he told the Westerly is panning out to be more like seven.

“It’s more likely going to be seven years, just looking at the size of the planet. It’s a big planet,” he said with a whimsical smile.



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