“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Cullen (aka "Bang-Bang")
2000 mile reflection:
The trail has given me an invaluable lesson in patience. My competitive nature had me chomping at the bit to get miles under my belt as quickly as possible when we started in Georgia. It was frustrating not keeping up with other hikers and telling them my start date when it was so much earlier than theirs. The fact that we're hiking as a group in addition to shooting a documentary quickly made me realize that we weren't going to reach my goals for mileage each day. As we grew more comfortable with day to day life in the woods and became stronger hikers we came closer and closer to my expectations. Then as we reached the halfway point in Pennsylvania I came to the realization that how many miles we did a day wasn't what was important. I began to relax and enjoy myself more. I made more friends, took more photos, shot more video, took more time to enjoy the views and wildlife around me and eventually the quality of my time on the trail improved. It also relieved stress and helped strengthen my relationships within our group. It's too bad it took me almost half the trail to realize this but I can be notoriously stubborn, yet another lesson learned. I'm looking forward to applying everything I've learned out here to life back at home.
Moving forward into the 100 mile wilderness and our endpoint at Katahdin, I want to focus on being in the moment instead of stressing about what is to come. I also want to interact more with this amazing community we've become a part of instead of keeping largely to myself as I traditionally have. I've been reinvigorated by the enthusiasm and generosity of those around me and I owe it to everyone to give back in any way I can.
Cullen grew up immersed in fantasy and science fiction - from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth to George Lucas’ Star Wars Universe, but has always explored the wilds of Virginia with the same wonder and enthusiasm. No stranger to a nomadic lifestyle, Cullen has lived across Virginia from Blacksburg to Fairfax and everywhere in between. In 2014 he finished a section hike of the Appalachian Trail across his home state and has been eagerly awaiting the start of his thru-hike ever since.
At Virginia Commonwealth University, Cullen focused on English but grew weary of urban life. He transferred to Blue Ridge Community College in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley where he finished his Associate Degree and quickly entered the workforce selling mortgages at a bank in northern Virginia. It took little time to realize this wasn’t his niche. As a new vegan and budding environmentalist, Cullen clashed ideologically with his surroundings. After less than 2 years in his new career, Cullen resigned and took up a good friend's offer to hike the Virginia AT. The trail offered a striking contrast to corporate life - this was where he belonged. Answering a call to action in the most familiar way he knows, Cullen is now taking to the trail as a hero in his own quest to save the world. Cullen spends most of his free time playing music, hiking, gaming and rewatching Star Wars: The Force Awakens with whoever will go with him.