The all-time youngest Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Colorado Trail hiker, Christian Thomas is known simply as “Buddy Backpacker” for all the qualities that he represents: friendship, mobility, curiosity, and exploration.
Christian Thomas was born on April 1, 2008, in Kings Park, N.Y. After spending the early years of his life growing up on Long Island, more than 100 miles away from anything resembling wilderness, Christian moved with his family to Boulder, Colo., where he began hiking near 14,000 ft mountains at the age of 4. Thanks to the influence of his parents, he grew up as an active child and became a fan of the outdoors. Christian would regularly return to New York during the summer to visit his family and ride his bike to his grandfather’s fishing spot.
Some of his later days in the Colorado mountains, while living at 9,500 ft on Mt. Crested Butte, he enjoyed honing his skills in skiing while developing lower muscle strength. When he started hiking northbound on April 27th 2013 from Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his adjustment to the high altitude helped him hike long distances on the Appalachian Trail, averaging 12-mile-days at only 5-years-old.
After hiking three 16-mile-days out of Duncanon, Penn., he appeared to be a contender for the youngest person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He blasted past Mt. Garfield in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, pulling a 17-mile day from Greenleaf to Zealand Falls Hut, while still stopping and talking to over 30 hikers he passed.
Christian continued to improve, and in Maine, he accidentally broke his then personal best mileage, by hiking too fast past his pick up point, and unknowingly hiked 22 miles into Monson.
That fall, the Baxter State Park Authority granted Christian Thomas with permission to climb Mount Katahdyn. He was the first five-year-old granted permission and, on September 14, 2013, became the youngest person known to summit the peak and complete the entire northern half of the Appalachian Trail.