Company makes a business out of playing in nature

Two adventurers have turned a hobby into a career and now spend their time traveling the country and recording trails via video so that other people can hike, bike, run, and ride them.

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This summer, Discover Kodiak hired Trail Genius to record real-time video and collect information about roughly 28 trails in Kodiak, including Termination Point, Pyramid, and Barometer, using ATVs, their own two legs, and their equipment.

Jason Manders said he and his partner Amanda Campbell are based in Wisconsin and began the Kodiak project in mid-June.

“We had a really great time,” Manders said. “We were surprised by the rainforest-type environment. The lush plants – that was a surprise and really cool. All the berries and the moss all over the ground. We kept thinking we were in some sort of enchanted forest or something.”

Manders said he’s been biking his entire life and he started recording trails to help other bikers decide whether they wanted to explore that trail or not. He said he did that as a hobby for two or three years, then he was “discovered.”

“And then we got a call from a large trail entity that has trails all over the world and they asked us to build this interactive experience of their bike trails as far as New Zealand, and that’s when we realized we could actually make money doing this,” Manders said.

He said, from there, he and Campbell got business from races, triathlons, and other event-holders that cover activities from driving snowmobiles to ATVs.

Campbell, who’s also a graphic designer, said Manders introduced her to biking prior to starting the business. While on the island, they decided to get married, a ceremony which Discover Kodiak executive director Chastity McCarthy said she officiated.

“They were like, we’ll just come into your office tomorrow and we can do it and I’m like, okay, that’ll work, but once they got in there, I was like well our office is this old wood paneling and it’s not that awesome,” McCarthy said. “Let me go talk to the construction workers outside and see if they’ll us do it on the new pier. So I ran out there, the construction workers walked us through safetly because there were still some little spots going on, but it was funny because I married them within about ten minutes and then afterwards the construction workers were cheering and we didn’t even know they had been watching.”

Which is how Amanda Campbell left the island as Amanda Manders.

McCarthy said Trail Genius might be back next summer to map more trails, but the current progress will be available online in December. Adventurers will be able to click through the trails, see real-time videos and learn about trails’ heights, elevations, and terrains.