The unofficial motto of the PCT is “The trail will provide”. The trail is well-developed and well-marked, there are lots of trail angels and trail magic. Most of all there are lots of other hikers and they all look out for each other. It’s certainly possible to get in trouble on the PCT, but if you do, there is a good chance that a helping hand will soon appear.
The unofficial motto of the AZT is “Harder than you think”. Trails are poor – steep, rocky, and overgrown, often all three at once. Water is scarce and can be downright disgusting. There are some wonderful trail angels and occasional bits of trail magic, but they are thin on the ground indeed. As are other hikers. It’s a hard trail and if you are a solo hiker you are pretty much on your own.
In 2016 I hiked a few days on the PCT with UV. She was carrying a plastic ukulele and making beautiful music with it. I resolved to get myself a plastic uke and start bringing it with me on hikes. I am not one tenth the musician she is, but I take much pleasure in having the instrument with me. Playing a tune while having a sip of whiskey and watching the sun set is a very fine way to end one’s day on the trail. I have a little microphone that plugs into my phone to record some of these songs. They are not great music, nor really even very good, but they take me back in spirit to the trail and I enjoy that. I hope you do too.
If you want to skip the words and just enjoy the pictures (and songs!), here are slideshows of the southern and northern halves of the trail: