My name is Jared “Schoolboy” Manninen, and I’ve hiked thousands of miles and have spent many days and nights outdoors. Some of my more memorable backpacking adventures include thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1999 (southbound), completing a 2014 thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, and hiking a 60-mile section in 2012 of the Pacific Crest Trail that included a day trip up Mount Whitney. I worked for a few years at a South Lake Tahoe backpacking store called Lake of the Sky Outfitters that provided integral support to Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail hikers. I’ve also worked since 2014 (during the winter seasons) at a popular cross-country ski area on the north side of Lake Tahoe.
In addition to my outdoor adventures, I’ve served in the US Marine Corps (1992-1996) and Army National Guard (1997-2000). I earned a BA in communications in 1999 from Michigan Technological University and an AA in business in 2014 from Lake Tahoe Community College. I was a professional massage therapist for over five years and a coach counselor to at-risk youth for three years. In 2013, I earned a second degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. In the late nineties, while earning my bachelor’s degree, I discovered a hidden passion for art and I’ve been an artist and writer ever since.
In 2005, I moved to South Lake Tahoe, CA, and immediately fell in love with Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. While thru-hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail my love deepened for the Lake Tahoe region. One reason is that I literally walked out my front door, hiked up to the Tahoe Rim Trail/Pacific Crest Trail trailhead on Echo Summit, then walked around the lake and back home. The journey took him 10 days, but the point is that I love being surrounded by pristine wilderness. It’s literally my backyard. I was also amazed by the vast number of micro-climates around Lake Tahoe. Every few miles offered new terrain and flora and fauna to identify.
After spending a couple of years trying to determine how best to share my Tahoe Rim Trail experience and to encourage others to go out and have their own adventures, I decided to publish a coloring book. The book is titled Color the Tahoe Rim Trail and features 79 illustrations based on the photographs I took while hiking around the lake. Prior to finishing the Tahoe Rim Trail coloring book, however, I had already delved into the world of self-publishing. In 2011, I had created an illustrated memoir based on the photos and journals I kept while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. This book is titled MEGA ’99: Adventures of an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker.
My experience working at Lake of the Sky Outfitters was one of the primary motivators behind him developing Tahoe Trail Guide. Although working with the Pacific Crest Trail hikers was a blast, they were easy customers with which to help because they already had so much experience by the time they reached the store (Echo Summit is roughly at mile 1,050 on the Pacific Crest Trail) and their needs were usually quite specific. However, I discovered that recreational hikers and backpackers provided me with the most challenges because of their broader needs and lack of experience. Regular folks simply didn’t have the time on the trail to develop their skills and knowledge which is one of the main reasons they visited the store. Unfortunately the store didn’t last (and closed on January 31, 2017), so I needed another outlet to continue the conversation.
Like any adventurer interested in hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing at Lake Tahoe, I have performed searches over the years for relevant information, but never found any sites that really met my needs. Some resources provided pieces of the puzzle, but most just left me scratching my head. Hence the creation of Tahoe Trail Guide.