Tahoe Trail Guide creator in love with the wild
R-C Alpine Bureau
Rounding the top of the stairs, I watched as he completed a perfect kata using the light wooden pole known as a “jo.” These drills in the martial art of aikido help you perfect both movement and technique. Jared Manninen was there by himself long before class was to begin. From this very first meeting, it was obvious that his whole heart was involved in what he was doing. He held nothing back. There was no one there to watch him, but his own self-motivation maintained his intensity.
Bowing off the mat, he introduced himself, showing a gentlemanly courteousness. The tattoo on his arm gave away the fact that he had been a Marine. Signing up at seventeen, he entered just after his eighteenth birthday. His grandfather had been in the Army, and his father had been a Marine. It had been a circuitous route from his birthplace in Michigan near Lake Superior to the shores of Lake Tahoe. Our family has been privileged to watch his path unfold and take shape over the last dozen years.
His parents relocated to Minnesota when he was only 10. His high school years were spent wrestling and being involved with almost every sport, but also studying and really applying himself to subjects like calculus, trigonometry, and physics. His step-father was an electrical engineer and a big inspiration. Jared discovered his ability to “walk in both worlds”, finding himself like a bridge, spanning the void between groups or ideas. He had the skill to bring them together.
His first two years in the Marines were spent in security forces, where he was stationed in Spain. Since he was fluent in Spanish, this was something that was on his “wish list”. Not allowed to own cars, he bought a bike and rode to small towns. This set the stage for living life more easily, making his own traditions and patterns as he went.
His second two years were spent at Camp Pendleton where he earned the rank of corporal. He found that all the training, though theoretical, was certainly “no joke.” They were soldiers waiting for the battle to begin, and the patrols, shooting ranges, and taking care of the gear were considered deadly serious.
”Being in the Marines was about learning to deal with suffering. It is that experience itself that defines you. You have to suffer to be able to learn how to bear it. You can’t let it affect you.” Here he met lifelong friends who manifested the dichotomy. They were deep philosophical thinkers who could also handle themselves under any circumstances.
Inspired by the “hunter, fisherman, salt of the earth, can do anything” kind of Midwestern man, Jared headed to Michigan Tech University. Returning to his roots reconnected him with family. He joined the Army National Guard in addition to his classes. Exploring possibilities, he majored in technical and scientific writing.
He began collecting comic books as he had done when he was young, and a talented artist friend planted a seed. Jared wondered if he could draw his own comics. After building himself a drafting table, he found he had a talent for it. Fine Art was his minor, and his classes in Spanish made a Thematic Cluster. He graduated with a Diversified Major in just three years.
After careful planning, he took six months off to hike. This adventure is chronicled in his book Mega ’99: Adventures of an Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker. It was a transformational journey. He followed it with a trip to Mardi Gras before moving to Arizona, staying with one of his Marine buddies while he got his certification in Therapeutic Massage. A one time experience getting a massage after he had strained his back motivated his interest. He liked the “hands-on” approach and knew that it worked.
He returned to Minnesota, working at Massage Therapy clinics, teaching trigger point therapy, and volunteering sports massage at running events. He immersed himself in the field until he was offered a position on the print line at a publishing company. On a vacation to California he discovered the love of his life. Coming up over Spooner Summit, the glistening opalescent blue startled him. Lake Tahoe had revealed her rich beauty. Jared found a cabin and moved in.
He got a job at Heavenly and learned how to snowboard. Always having felt comfortable in the role of coach-counselor, he started working with at-risk youth for Rite of Passage in Woodfords. Although difficult, the evidence based practices made a difference. Eventually he went on to the corporate offices to design their newsletter.
He published his comic book Gruesome Tales and marketed it and his Mega ’99 during the recession. He taught classes on how to make your own comic books at the Boys and Girls Club and Police Activity Club. He also got his degree in business from Lake Tahoe Community College using it to help him visualize how all his creative endeavors could be marketed. He gained an understanding of the outdoor recreation industry and how it worked.
Jared ended up being the first 2nd degree Black Belt at Blue Lake Aikido, solidifying his life purpose and underlying philosophy. Continuing with the warrior-poet concept, he attended seminars and met people, making connections that matched up the pieces in his life. In 2014 he hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail, subsequently publishing a coloring book based on his drawings and photos.
Winter seasons, he works at Tahoe Donner Ski Cross Country Ski Center. In the summer he used to work at a backpacking store where he found the interchange exhilarating. When it closed in 2017, he missed talking about hiking and skiing. Wanting to keep the conversation alive was what motivated him to start the Tahoe Trail Guide website. Now in warm months, he can be found working at Angora Lakes Resort. Jared has achieved the perfect Tahoe lifestyle, acknowledging the rhythm of the seasons and the joy of being outside in the biggest playground in the world.
There are many threads that weave together a life. Jared has taken his strengths and talents, using them to create his own unique place in the world. Best described as a “Scholar Athlete,” he is fully present in both body and mind, evaluating each step he takes on his journey.
His website tahoetrailguide.com is exceptionally easy to navigate. It has learn-ables to get you started hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing in the Tahoe area. There are excellent directions for where to go (and when). Outstanding photography brings the outdoor experience alive, and Jared has created beautiful posters, notecards, and “swag” to help you remember all the fun you had in the wild country.