...and don't forget the Junies!

HECK OF A TREK: Ryan Lay Walks Arizona for Skate After School

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Among Arizona’s K-12 students, roughly 214,000 are alone and unsupervised after school. After-school programs help keep kids safe, boost student success, and help parents keep their jobs.

Skate After School is a Phoenix-based nonprofit partnering with schools to provide skateboarding instruction to underserved youth. They provide weekly after-school programming to over 240 underserved children across 8 schools. With donations, Skate After School is able to supply each student with the equipment and protective gear necessary to participate.

In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, SAS had to put their programs on pause.  But with the world trying to flip right-side up, the Skate After School crew is poised to resume in-person programs in 2021.

Enter SAS co-founder, professional skateboarder and JuneShine Ambassador, Ryan Lay. This Spring, Ryan took it upon himself to help raise both awareness and the necessary coin to starting cranking once again. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Ryan opted to tackle one of the most famous hiking routes in the country, the Arizona Trail—800 miles of scenic, but tough, terrain stretching from Mexico to Utah. The route itself crosses the entire north–south length of the U.S. state of Arizona. 

Typically, the trail is hiked from south to north and takes hikers, on average, 6-8 weeks to complete. Each year more and more people discover the trail and its beauty, but only around 100 peeps complete the journey each year.

We caught up with Ryan towards the end of his journey to pick his brain while he rested his legs. Enjoy!

You skate professionally! But how long have you been hiking and why this massive trail? 
RYAN: I've always been a moderate day hiker and backpacker but got into more ambitious thru-hiking mostly because of quarantine. There's something real alluring about tuning out and getting a little closer to the rhythm of the earth.

Funniest thing that happened on the trek? 
So far, sleeping in a post office on top of Mount Lemmon with three other hikers was a real treat. It was somewhere in the 20s and they kept the reception area on with some heat and bright fluorescent lights.

Sketchiest thing to happen on this trek? 
Getting stuck on top of the Rincons at almost 9,000 feet with a whole bunch of snow after sunset. I had to hike about five miles in the dark with my headlamp just to get back to lower elevation.

One thing you'd never pack / do again on a hike like this? 
Pants. I wore them for two days and switched to shorts with tights packed just in case.

What was the first song you listened to when you got your music catalogue re-synced? 
Salt by Alex G. I've been listening to that album a lot lately. It's really nice trail music.

Was that JuneShine we saw the only one you had all trip? 
I've been putting them in my resupply boxes and whenever my partner meets up with me she'll usually bring some, but I'm gonna' start putting them in the bear boxes for other thru-hikers. It's so nice to have a drink after 40+ miles of hiking for a few days.

Tell us about the feeling you got seeing the support pour in...
Like a lot of small businesses that require in-person interaction, COVID hit us especially tough. So it really means a lot to see so many people get behind this and help us get back on our feet.
Favorite memory from being out there?
My partner met up with me in Kearny and I had just done a 22, 27 and 27 mile day. She brought food and drinks and a foam mattress to sleep in the back of the car. I took a little shower with a water bottle even. That was a nice treat...
What are you most looking forward to when things re-launch for Skate After School?
Skating with the kids! I would bet a lot of them have had a lot of time skating at home so I'm excited to see how much they've grown in a year!
You're the man! Enjoy the rest of this one, good sir.
Too easy. Thank you!

JOIN: Sponsor Ryan's Hiking Fundraiser and help them reach their goals. 
VISIT:  SKATE AFTER SCHOOL on the interweb. 
FOLLOW: Ryan Lay on Instagram.