Skin Tracks Playlist

Indigenous skier and all-around radical human, Connor Ryan, shares his skin track playlist.

Connor wants to ensure the tracks he leaves behind are worth following. Unceded Ute lands.
Photo by Isaiah Branch-Boyle @isaiahjboyle

This story was originally featured in our Spring 2024 Trail Break issue.

The skin track is the place I try to clear my head and put down some of the daily obligations I carry in order to lighten the load that our troubled world puts on my heart. I exchange the internal heaviness rooted in causes beyond my control for a pack weighed down with personal responsibility. Most days the sounds of the wind between the trees and peaks or the scratching of my outer wear through the brush is the sound that renews me and draws me to the present moment… but some days I need a little more auditory encouragement.

If my headphones are on, they are probably blaring. My playlist usually starts with something to set me straight like a lyrical compass, a ballad for the times. These first songs have a message I would scream to the world from the treetops in hopes to make the obvious as apparent to them as it seems to me.

The first songs I hear while my skins glide along help me to let go, the next ones help me to flow. I start to seek out emotion above all else, honoring the parts of me that feel unrecognized. I seldom give enough voice to the gratitude I have for myself and what it has taken for me to become who I am, so I also lean into transmuting my grief and anger into fuel that propels me against gravity. Inevitably, by the time I reach the top I let the volume fade and drop into a chaotic world with new found flow ready to dance with life and the mountains again. Flow with me?

CONNOR RYAN @sacredstoke is a proud Hunkpapa Lakota and passionate skier. Connor was born and raised in the homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples, who have become some of his biggest inspirations and closest relatives, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Skiing is his dance and prayer, a ceremony of its own, one that offers a chance to center himself within nature and the Great Mystery of the universe surrounding him. Connor works to inspire others to deepen their connection to the places they live and play in order for us all to be better relatives to our planet, our communities, and ourselves.

Scan the QR code to access Connor’s Skin Track Playlist on Spotify. Please listen kindly and responsibly.