Thanks Nick. I think there are so many resources for which sleeping bag to pick, but so few for what to eat on a thru hike, I was hoping to contribute my failures and successes with food during my long distance hiking experiences. Physical and mental performance, mood, and general enjoyment all benefit from a well nourished belly.
Concerning a bear can, ice ax, and microspikes, I can strongly recommend bringing all 3. 2011 was particularly snowy, so the snow stuff was needed for a long stretch. I sent my ax and spikes home too early and had many close calls due to my desire to shed some pounds. Ice axes first role is to give a stable hand hold for snowy traverses. 3 points of contact, etc. Poles are nowhere near as stable. The bear can is an obligation any responsible hiker and steward of the trail should take into the Sierras. I had an Ursack as well and carried both through the Sierras. The list of reasons to carry a bear can where legally required far outweigh the benefit of saving 2.6 pounds off your back. You don't even need to carry it for very long. The Ursack did allow to be carefree elsewhere on the trail and I never once worried about my food or had to throw bear line. A great piece of kit.
For a groundsheet, tyvek or polycryo would do just fine and save significant weight over the mylar blanket. Wet ground is rarely an issue on the PCT. Silnylon will do just fine for waterproofing, but protecting your floor and pad is where a groundsheet is necessary. I liked tyvek for its weight vs. robustness compared to polycryo, which is just shrink wrap.
Having weathered a few SoCal rainstorms on my hike, always having a raincoat may not be a bad idea even though its the desert. It still gets cold as well. No raincoat will perform as advertised, so just keep it in the 7-10 ounce range.
A windshirt is nice if hiking in a polyester or wool shirt, but for tops i would advise your hiking shirt to be one of those SPF 50 nylon shirts:. It's ideal for sun, bugs, cold, heat(buttons) and durability (light wool shreds under a pack quickly). Bring a 150 weight wool thermal to wear under when its cold and the nylon shirt will act like a wind shirt. the montbell down and rain jacket make for 4 light layers on top.
Trekking poles are great, especially in the slippery snow and river crossings. I still fell many dozens of times, but poles help.
A nice shelter isn't hard to find. Lightheart, Tarptent, SMD, Zpacks, MLD, and others all have great options under 2 pounds. A lot of PCT hikers only used their shelter a dozen times. I used mine almost every night, but mostly in bug net mode.
Gaiters are great for dust, which keeps your feet and socks in better shape. Dirty girls or levagaiters are good. For the snow and river crossings you can't do much, but sealskinz keep at least a base level of warmth no matter what. Several times I tried to push through with just my Darn toughs and had to stop and change into Sealskinz just out of pain. They aren't comfortable, but were a huge benefit in the 2011 snow pack.