14 June, 2018

Emerald queen

When the summer heat hits the city, an escape to the countryside can bring refreshment for body and soul. Especially, if it includes mountains and Alpine valleys, forests and the most beautiful turquoise river of them all. 
Up the impressive Vršič pass with a short stop along the roadside, which I might as well use for taking off into the woods...
... if it wasn't for the gem that was waiting on the other side of the mountain pass.
After the first glimpse of the crystal clear water, it was time to raise the heart rate on the short trail that leads towards the source of the Soča river.  
Being the over-prepared person I am, I couldn't help trying to find as much as possible about the path itself. Surprisingly, I found it to be listed as "very demanding" on hiking sites, an information I believed to be a little overrated because: How demanding could a 15 min walk actually be?
In the beginning, not so much - a nice, more or less stony trail that leads steadily uphill. Until stones are replaced by rocks and you suddenly find yourself faced with steel ropes and passages that are to narrow to make oncoming traffic possible, let alone safe.
On the other hand, short waiting periods might as well give you a chance to - carefully - look around and find yourself in a fairytale. Don't forget to hold on to the ropes though.
And if not before, at the latest upon entering the final downhill part I was more than happy to have my walking boots with me. A solid step is worth more than words can describe, and a big "thumbs up" goes to the Dutch family in full hiking gear. The "idiot of the day" award, however, will be given to every single member of the Slovene family who proceeded to the source in flip-flops. What kind of stupid, irresponsible jerks are you anyway? It's not OK to go hiking unprepared in the first place, but even if you did underestimate the conditions, it's totally OK to turn around once you see that your equipment doesn't suit the situation you're in. 
I guess with the more and more present stupidity I might slowly but surely start to believe that sometimes, natural selection should just do its job. Oh well...
Almost there. The summer season has taken its toll on the water levels, and where water is usually splashing across the stony ground, one could safely admire the view of stone walls, who embrace a deep turquoise cave.
Even more amazing, however, are the views in the other direction, where the narrow cleft opens towards the valley underneath, while water pours out somewhere between the stones only to disappear into nowhere once the platform abruptly ends.

         Krasnà si, bistra hči planín,
         Brdká v prirodni si lepôti,
         Ko ti prozôrnih globočín
         Nevíhte témne srd ne móti,
         Krasnà si, hči planín!

         Simon Gregorčič, Soči

More views of paradise...
... and off we go again past the playful river that runs next to the trail.

         Tvoj ték je žív in je legák,
         Ko hôd deklét s planíne;
         In jasna si ko gorski zrák,
         In glásna si, ko spév krepák
         Planínske je mladíne, 
         Krasnà si, hčí planín!

         Simon Gregorčič, Soči

A short break at the Information Center of the Triglav National Park in Trenta - a great opportunity to learn something new about the National Park itself and get my hands on some of the delicious local products they offer.
Next stop: the Big Throughs of the Soča, an impressive canyon filled with emerald water that runs past the narrow rock edges, only to come out as a quiet strip of natural beauty that offers refreshment to anyone who is not afraid of its cool temperature.

         Rad glédam ti v valove bôdre,
         Valove te zelêno-módre:
         Temnà zelén planinskih trav
         In vedra víšnjevost višáv
         Lepó se v njih je zlila;
         Na rôsah sínjega nebá,
         Na rôsah zélenih gorâ
         Lepôto to si pila, —
         Krasnà si, hčí planín!

         Simon Gregorčič, Soči

Another view of the Soča valley, which we'd follow past the huge Boka waterfall...
... only to later switch to another valley of green that is home to Soča's main right tributary - Ter, where low water levels in the riverbed again made it possible to get as close to the ice-cold refreshment as possible.
Our last stop of the day was Bardo, a remote village located at the westernmost part of the Slovene territories that greeted us with an interesting church, a lovely ethnographic museum and a whole history of hardship from poverty, oppression, emigration, and - last but not least - the 1976 Friuli earthquake.
Another unknown bit of the world discovered: check.

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