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.
And so began The Legend of Buddy Backpacker…
Current World Records Held
Youngest Appalachian Trail Hiker
2013, 5 Years Old
Youngest Pacific Crest Trail Hiker
2014, 6 Years Old
Youngest Colorado Trail Hiker
2015, 7 Years Old
Youngest Continental Divide Trail Hiker
2017, 9 Years Old
Youngest Triple Crown of Hiking
2017, 9 Years Old
Youngest American on Camino de Santiago
2018, 10 Years Old
Frequently Asked Questions
How far do you hike?
About 20-25 miles on a regular day
How long did it take?
Appalachian took 9 months. The Pacific Crest took 7 months.
The Colorado Trail in two months. The Continental Divide got split up over two years.
What’s your favorite trail?
Every trail has its fun parts. Hard choice.
Where do you get food?
There is a town every four to five days. Sometimes we mail ourselves packages.
Do you wear a backpack?
Didn’t really use at pack when I was 5, but now I do
Where do you sleep?
Small camping spots along the trail
Where do you poop?
Where do you shower?
Towns and backcountry rivers
Do you carry a map?
Yes and we use an great iPhone apps too
How long do you plan?
We plan each trail for about 30 days before we leave
Do you hike alone?
We see 10-40 people a day during hiking season.
Favorite trail food?
Chocolate and chocolate covered honey buns
Are you ever tired?
Never really exhausted by the end of the day. Not yet.
Did you see any bears?
Just two. In New Jersey. Then some in Glacier.
Whats your heaviest item?
Battery pack for the iPhone
Which trail is harder?
The Appalachian is harder. The trail in Maine is more like an obstacle course.
What’s a thru-hiker?
One whole trail in one year.
Dion Pagonis and Andrea Rego, when not out on the local trails or ski runs, have spent their free time hiking over 8,000 miles across the long trails of the United States with their son.
It was their love of hiking in Colorado that lead them to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with their 5 year old son over 9 months.