Some thoughts from my first 150 miles on the PCT. I was pretty fresh to long term hiking when I started. For some these are just known. For me, these were suprises.
1) the word “town” is used loosely on the PCT. Apparently a post office is the official PCT requirement for the title town.
2) your pack balance and weight change radically with the addition of water and food. One liter of water weights 2.2lbs, that does wacky things to ultralight packs when you have to carry 6 liters in some areas. You can even get blisters in odd parts of your feet because of it, like on the tops of your toes.
3) rashes, lots of rashes in unfortunate places. Be glad I am not doing pictures for this post.
4) men, if you are hairy, prepare yourself for that hair to be slowly ripped from your body. That hair on your shoulders.. yep, the hair between your legs, ALL the way up … yep, slowly ripped from you in painful ways. (They sort of ball up in places for you to find later.)
5) chafe, if anything is rubbing around on anything else you are going to have a painful problem very soon. I have seen some bad bad things that I cannot unsee now.
6) you “need” powdered juice mixes like Gatorade powder or similar. You need the electrolytes obviously, but mostly it is really to cover the taste of that gross water with dead flies you had to filter water out of.
7) you cannot worry about people passing you hauling ass. All the guys who were bombing the trail past me are off trail now with injury.
8) DO NOT overdo it, you have to listen to your body. Hiking is like running, any issue needs to be immediately addressed.
9) go to kick off, it is worth it just for the water report, also you will meet a lot of hikers and trail angels you will see later.
10) get your sleep system set well in advance. Sleep on it for two weeks before going on trail.
Bonus 1: those hip belt pockets on your pack you carefully planned to put stuff in, one of those will become dedicated to food bars, snickers and all manner of snacks.