Your plans to follow in Cheryl Strayed's soul searching footsteps will have to wait—part of the Pacific Coast Trail and the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area have been closed due to a massive wildfire.
The Whitewater Fire has been raging in the Willamette Forest for over two weeks now. This week, it grew significantly and has spread to over 5,800 acres. So officials have decided to close 28 miles of the PCT as well as a large section of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, which was expected to draw large crowds during the eclipse. The Statesmen first reported on the closures.
Already, the Whitewater Fire is the second largest wildfire of the summer, and it's expected to grow more this weekend. It was caused by a lighting storm that happened back in June. The wet ground during the storm prevented a fire from sparking immediately, but a single tree remained smoldering for almost a month. When that tree eventually fell, it ignited the dried out forest.
The fire is currently uncontained, and the Mt. Jefferson closures are scheduled through the eclipse. The estimated containment date on the forest's services website is currently listed as October 31.
According to the most recent update from the Willamette National Forest Service, there was more lighting yesterday and there are more forecasted for tonight. "Firefighters are on the lookout for aggressive fire behavior, and a high potential for rolling, burning materials that may increase fire spread," reads the report.
Here's the Forest Service's map of the closures: