The Denver Post - - NEWS -

Dur­ing the past five years, Chris­tian Thomas has hiked nearly 8,000 miles, com­plet­ing the three trails that make up the Triple Crown of U.S. hik­ing. Even more im­pres­sive: Chris­tian is 9 years old.

He didn’t set out to be­come the youngest hiker to com­plete the Ap­palachian, Pa­cific Crest and Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide trails. It just hap­pened, start­ing shortly af­ter his fifth birth­day in April 2013.

“We thought it was go­ing to be like a fun two-week trip,” the Colorado fourth-grader said of that first long hike with his mom and step­dad. “And then we just kept go­ing and go­ing.” Nine months later, they’d fin­ished the Ap­palachian Trail. “And then we thought, ‘Why not do the other two?’ ”

So the next year, when Chris­tian was 6, the fam­ily spent eight months on the Pa­cific Crest Trail, cross­ing snow-lined moun­tain passes and scorch­ing deserts. He fin­ished the Triple Crown by com­plet­ing the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide Trail two months ago.

When hik­ing, Chris­tian keeps up with school­work by lis­ten­ing to pod­casts and other ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial on his head­phones.

The Ap­palachian Trail runs from Geor­gia to Maine, with 550 of its 2,190 miles in Vir­ginia.

The Pa­cific Crest Trail spans Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton. Chal­leng­ing con­di­tions can in­clude deep snow in the moun­tains and ex­treme heat in the deserts.

Fewer than 500 hik­ers com­pleted this 2,660-mile trail in 2014, the year Chris­tian did it.

The Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide Trail runs 3,100 miles from Mon­tana to New Mex­ico.

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