I attended the ADZPCTKO (PCT KICKOFF) so started late May. I took a lot of zeros early on, much fewer the second half.
To wit, zeros in:
Julian (off trail - fellow hiker needed medical treatment)
Warner Springs (I loved this place - the resort is old and has natural hot springs. Rooms are cheap if split among several hikers)
Idylwild (good town in the mountains)
Big Bear City (took a couple of days to meet up with a friend - too big, too spread out)
Wrightwood (quirky mountain town)
Aqua Dulce (home off the Saufleys - Trail Angels supreme)
The Andersons (a mere 24 miles from they Saufleys - alsoiconic Trail Angels)
Bakersfield via Tahachapi (one of my fellow hikers lived there)
Kennedy Meadows (gateway to the Sierra) Reached here on June 17th or so.
Independence (resupply in the Sierra)
Mammoth (via Reds Meadow - family had met me on trail and hiked out to there)
Truckee (stayed with a family friend)
Chico (via Belden - met my wife there and took four days off trail)
HALFWAY POINT - 17 or so zeros. Reached here on morning of August 1st.
Old Station - at Firefly (another great Trail Angel - took zero because of massive fire that closed trail ahead and to help Firefly evacuate home, if necessary [which it wasn't, thank goodness])
Etna - A really great little town, charming
Ashland, Ore - Go check out the Shakespearian Theatre, well worth your time and money
Crater Lake, Ore - Go up to the rim and check it out.
Cascade Locks, Ore - My friends drove 250 miles roundtrip to spend the day with me, it was well appreciated.
Packwood, WA (via White Pass, WA) - Bad knee caused me issues.
Stevens Pass - Double zero - snowstorm, bad weather, went home for a couple of days with other hikers to wait out the storm. The area north of Steven Pass to the border is in my estimation one of the highlights of the PCT - good weather was a must.
Steheiken, WA - An epic trail "town" only accessible via trail, float plane or boat.
Second half - 8 zeros with two or three nearos thrown in there to hang out at a lake after a half day of hiking. Finished October 14th.
Now the qualifiers. First, I was 38 years old when I hiked the trail. I wasn't in great shape when I started, I was actually in pretty lousy hiking shape as I spent the months before the trip wrapping up work projects (my gracious employer gave me a sabbatical). Not that there were many opportunities to go hiking, the mountains where I live were full of snow in April, preventing most hiking other than snowshoeing and low-level stuff. My pace was 15-17 miles or so a day initially. I was much faster after the first six weeks on the trail - I began to log 30+ days on occassion and most in the 20-25 mile range.
Inisitally, my biggest issues were with the heat in Southern California. I was used to 45 degree weather, not 95 degree + weather. Fortunately, it cooled down considerably after that and provided a blessed respite.
Finally, once I got my hiking legs on (and by the time it was over, I went from 204 to 152 pounds), the zeros were more out of logistics (needed to wait till the post office opened) than because my body was hurting. The first 400 miles were the hardest of the trail for me. I wasn't used to the heat. The miles were tough at times, sure, but the heat was worse for me. There are a lot of great hikers out on the trail, many of whom loved the hot days. I was not one.
Other observations - do stop at the rustic resort at Mt. Lassen National Park. (the trail practically goes right through it). They treat PCT hikers far better than we deserve - they will go out of their way to feed you a ton of food (at half price), let you swim and take a shower at no cost, and treat you just wonderfully. The meals are at set times, but they are great people and will always be remembered for their generosity.
Be kind to all Trail Angels, they are wonderful people. Make a good impression in towns where you stop - and tip well. It really helps keep the good vibe going.
Don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing - hike your own hike. I regretted some of the zeros because it resulted me in finishing the trail in mid-October. I live in Washington and know what a toss up the weather can be in early October. Some years great, some years rainy. The year I hiked it, it was just cold and clear usually, but we did get snow. The thing is it gets dark early in October in Washington. The days are short so the breaks were few for us.
If I had to do it all over? I'd start in better shape, carry less stuff, when it got really hot rather than hiking through it, hike 5 a.m. till 11 a.m. or noon, take four hours off and then hike from 4 till dusk. I'd drink more water and eat better.
Have a great time! The long distance hiking experience can be sublime.