Lots of people have been asking me how the PCT compares to the AT… At least in the first 150 miles there are lots of differences!
The AT is a green tunnel, the PCT is either a red racetrack or the yellow-brick road.
The AT has lots of tree cover and the trail was mostly mud or hard-packed earth. The PCT by contrast is incredibly exposed. There is rarely tree cover and much of the trail is yellowish beach sand or reddish rocks.
Walking on the AT was mostly walking on hard surfaces, walking on the PCT is mostly like walking on the soft part of the beach.
On the AT I never used my sunscreen, on the PCT I use it four times a day.
On the AT I used my rescue inhaler four times a day, on the PCT I haven’t used it at all.
On the AT it seemed like there was water everywhere, on the PCT the creeks and streams have mostly been dry. The water caches, however, have been impressively stocked.
On the AT almost 80% of the thu-hikers I met (in the first 150 miles) on the trail smoked cigarettes, on the PCT I haven’t encountered any smokers yet.
On the AT the birds started chirping an hour before dawn (a reliable alarm clock), on the PCT the birds start chirping sometime between dawn and an hour after dawn.
On the AT views were a rare commodity, on the PCT it seems there are spectacular new views around every corner.
On the AT the lows were in the 40s, on the PCT the lows were in the 20s.
On the AT the highs were in the 70s, on the PCT the highs were in the 90s.
On the AT it’s possible to stay at shelters every night, on the PCT there are no shelters.
On the AT mice out number people, on the PCT lizards outnumber people.
On the AT the crowd was mostly 20 something’s, on the PCT the crowd seems to be mostly 60 something’s (because I’m starting the PCT early and I started the AT late?).
On the AT people would look at you crazy if you hiked 20 miles on your first day, on the PCT that seems like the norm.
Blister prevalence seems the same for both the AT and the PCT. I’ve seen fewer knee injuries on the PCT so far though.
The PCT truly believes in switchbacks, Georgia thinks that it’s trying sometimes.
On the AT there are gaps, on the PCT there are canyons.
On the AT I never used my sunglasses, on the PCT I use them every day.
I didn’t seem any mosquitos the first 150 miles of the AT, I’ve seen tons on the PCT already.
There seems to be a higher default level of education on the PCT relative to the AT (could be due to the older demographic.
On the AT I hung a bear bag every night, on the PCT I sleep with my food on my tent.
On the AT I resupplied out of grocery stores and ghetty marts, for the PCT I am sending myself maildrops.
Despite raining 4/5 of my first days on the PCT, it has generally been much sunnier on the PCT than on the AT.
When packing for the PCT I made a few adjustments to my gear. The main one was switching my alcohol stove to a jetboil sol. I loved my little alcohol stove, but because of the fire danger California has banned them this year.
In the first 150 miles I’ve also switched some of my gear. I traded out my baseball cap for a more desert friendly cap with a neck guard. I bought down booties to keep my feet warm. I bought a chrome dome umbrella for shade, I bought extra sunscreen, and I bought some Chapstick with sunscreen in it. I also realized that having a v-neck long sleeve shirt meant having extra sunburn area to worry about so I would definitely get a high-colored shirt if I were to do this again!