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We spent a week in the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park in the Soca Valley. This is a place of incredible beauty and tragedy. The Soca flows out of a crack in the rock near the high mountain passes of the Alps, and flows turquoise through limestone, cutting channels 100 feet deep and only 20 feet wide.

The valley was the site of horrendous battles between the Italians and the Austro-Hungarians from 1915-17. Half a million men died, and 1.5 million were wounded. There wasn't a male between 15 and 75 in the whole valley after the war. Incredibly rugged terrain for a fight. You could see fortifications from valley to ridge top, and spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, with graveyards, memorials, and church steeples in the foreground.

Slovenia is an undiscovered gem in my book. We went to fish for Marble Trout in the Soca, but stayed for the wonderful hiking, the beautiful views, the good food, very good wine and welcoming people. Enjoy the pics.

Postojna Caves

Postojna Caves

This is Karst country, limestone with underground caverns cut by the underground rivers. Water dissolves limestone, then redeposits it in stalagmites and stalactites.

Ready for Summer Visitors

Ready for Summer Visitors

Visiting the last week of May, we were ahead of the big summer crowds.

Postojna Cave Entrance

Postojna Cave Entrance

We signed up to take the subterranean railway trip through the caverns. It was like a roller coaster in a tunnel.

Guided Tour

Guided Tour

Guided tours begin with a train ride into the heart of the caves, followed by a walk through a series of halls with intricate rock formations.

Incredible Formations

Cracks of Light

Cracks of Light

At one point, they led us through a tunnel and turned out the lights. Can't see your hand in front of your head. Momentary panic as you wonder if this is intentional or not.

Dripping Limestone

Looks like Paint being spilled

Column

Column

Drip, Drip, Drip. The stalactite hanging from the ceiling eventually merges with the stalagtite growing from the ground to make a column.

Walking through the Caverns

Walking through the Caverns

See the tour walking up the trail.

It's raining limestone

Incredible Lighting

Incredible Lighting

The lighting strung throughout the caverns was key to the experience. Flash photography isn't allowed. My Leica digital camera shoots very fast, so it could capture stills and video in low light.

Growing Fatter by the Drip

Lots of Spikes

Merging

Merging

The Stalactite has made contact with the Stalagmite.

Tiny Cavern

Tiny Cavern

You could look in from the outside of this tiny cave, a fractal of the larger caverns we were exploring.

Huge Dripping Columns

Multi-Colored Hues

Wouldn't wanna get lost back here

Well Done

Well Done

They have created a great experience in the cave tour.

Predjama Castle

Predjama Castle

Just up the road from the Postojna Caves is this castle built at the mouth of a cave. Under siege for a year, Erasmus Lueger, a Robin Hood like figure, was hit by a cannonball as he sat in the privy and killed in 1484.

Traveling Companions

Traveling Companions

Marit and Morten, with Genie and Gregg.

Sunset in Tolmin

Sunset in Tolmin

Looking out from the porch of our Penzion apartment over the town of Tolmin, in the Soca Valley.

Genie & Marit take the car train

Genie & Marit take the car train

The fastest way to Lake Bohinj from Tolmin requires driving on to the car train, and sitting in your car while the train ascends through a dark tunnel up to the lake.

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj

Beautiful gem in Triglav National Park

Take the Lift up, then Hike

Take the Lift up, then Hike

The ski lifts operate for hikers in the summer. Genie and Marit went hiking off the lifts.

View from the Top

View from the Top

Looking into the heart of Triglav National Park, the Julian Alps

Marit on the Ridge

View beyond the run

We didn't suffer

National Park View

Views from the Pass

Views from the Pass

The Russian Road takes motorists up and over the summit on the way to Kranska Gora. They call it the Russian Road because it was built by 10,000 Russian prisoners of war in World War I.

Snow-capped peaks

Nice lake, eh?

Impressionistic Nature Scene

Impressionistic Nature Scene

This view of a mountain lake is just a crop of the reflection in the lake of the previous picture

Stillness

Marit at the Church

Graveyards everywhere

Graveyards everywhere

Remind us of the World War One battles here.

Sterk Penzion Patio

Sterk Penzion Patio

Overlooking Soca Lake

Soca Lake

Soca River, our first glimpse

Soca River, our first glimpse

We picked up fishing licenses at the Sterk Lodge, and saw Soca Lake, where the Idrijca, the Baca and the Soca come together behind a dam. The beautiful color of the water drew us here.

Stalking the elusive Marble Trout

Indigenous to this area alone

Bridge Fortifications

Bridge Fortifications

These World War I fortification on both sides of the bridge over the Idrijca River

Reminders of Tragedy

Reminders of Tragedy

Millions dead and wounded

Formidable Fortress

Julian Alps

Fishing the Idrijca River

Fishing the Idrijca River

Our first morning we fished the Idrijca River, just out of Tolmin.

Fishing with Morten

Taking a break with Erik

Morten casts the Soca

Morten casts the Soca

For the afternoon, we went out on the Soca. It was running 20 CM higher than last week with the snowmelt. Hard to get lures down where the fish are in the current

Taking a break in a beautiful place

Taking a break in a beautiful place

I sit on a rock changing a fly, taking a sip of water, in the shadows of the snow-capped Alps, in the beautiful Soca River.

Rushing Waters

Rushing Waters

The Soca flows out of a crack in the rock near the pass high in the Julian Alps in Slovenia. It is running fast and clear this day.

Morning Fog over Tolmin

Morning Fog over Tolmin

from our Penzion balcony

Trying the Tolminka River

Trying the Tolminka River

Our second morning, we were fishing the Tolminka, a much smaller river running through gravel bars.

Looking for Trout

Looking for Trout

We could spot the trout laying in the current from up on the river bank. Catching them was another matter.

Morten and Erik casting

After the storm on the Idrijca

After the storm on the Idrijca

After a midday thunderstorm, we found another spot on the Idrijca, a big slow curve with trout feeding on the far bank.

Erik stalks trout

Morten mends his line

Casting into the Still Waters of the Idrija

Casting into the Still Waters of the Idrija

Idrija River, Slovenia. Saw a big trout sipping dry flies right against the far bank. Trying to spot a fly right on the bank and get a natural looking drift was quite a challenge

Ibex grazing

Ibex grazing

Low light through the truck window with my iPhone. Rare sighting of an Ibex.

Genie at Triglav National Park

Genie at Triglav National Park

She and Marit went up above Bovec and hiked the Soca Trail.

Marit in the Mountains

Wildflowers abound

Beautiful blooms

Wild Rose

Spring is Blooming

Julian Alps come into view

Marit on the Soca River Trail

Soca courses through the limestone

Bright Blue Waters

Bright Blue Waters

Springing forth from underground, the headwaters of the Soca carve through limestone, picking up color against the white rock.

Surrounded by steep ridges

Marit crossing the Soca

Wildflowers and boulders

Ridgeline Fortifications circa 1915

Path climbs above then drops to the river

Bridging the Soca

Looking downriver

Soca River Blues

Bridge over the River Soca

Bridge over the River Soca

You can see the up and down nature of the trail, when it is at river level here, and the bridge is eighty of a hundred feet higher.

Walking through the Gorges

Walking through the Gorges

Soca River, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Tunnel in the Gorge

Tunnel in the Gorge

Looking out on the Soca and the bridge

Soca, home of the Marble Trout

Swinging bridges

Swinging bridges

These bridges had wood slats that were starting to crack and rot, and the bridge itself sways as you walk. Sketchy,

Narrows

Narrows

This is one of the narrower places in the Gorges of the Soca

Genie on the Path

Hiking Companions

Hiking Companions

These two have hiked together in Alaska, Norway, Colorado and Slovenia. Sharing passion for nature.

Crack in the Ground

Look into the Gorge

Cascades of blue water

A force of nature

A force of nature

seeing the effects of water cutting through rock is amazing.

From a raging torrent to a trickle

From a raging torrent to a trickle

depending on the season of the year

Headed for the Tunnel

Protection from Rock Slides

Deep into the Gorge

Churches and Memorials everywhere

Churches and Memorials everywhere

reminding us of the tragedy of World War I, and the conflicts of the Balkans since the fall of the Iron Curtain

Well established tourist infrastructure

Well established tourist infrastructure

Slovenians love to show off the natural wonders of this place, and have created trails, opportunities to kayak, raft, hang glide, ski and fish these mountains.

View from the Church

Fog rolls in over the river

Back to the Soca for more fishing

Morten, Erik and Karlo our guide

Beautiful blue ribbon of water

Panorama from the Italian Charnel House

Panorama from the Italian Charnel House

Memorializing over 7000 Italians whose remains are buried at this site.

Soca River Valley

Looking upstream at the Soca

World War I Memorial Cemetery

World War I Memorial Cemetery

Dedicated by Mussolini in 1938, just as they were starting the craziness all over again. This Charnel House sits atop a hill in the Soca River Valley near Tobarid. They have constructed the 14 Stations of the Cross along the road up to the top of the hill where the church and memorial stand.

Imagine a war on these ridges

Imagine a war on these ridges

See the Italian Charnel House in the foreground.

Jesus is Condemned to Death

Jesus is Condemned to Death

The first Station of the Cross on the road up to the Charnel House.

Jesus takes up his Cross

Jesus falls the first time

Jesus meets his holy mother

Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross

Jesus' face is wiped by St Veronica

Jesus falls a second time

Jesus speaks to the holy women of Jerusalem

Jesus falls a third time

Jesus stripped of his garments

Jesus is nailed to the cross

He is crucified

Jesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus is placed in the sepulcher

Walking up the steps of the memorial

Church sits atop the remains of 7000 Italians killed here in World War I

Pastoral view of the valley

Picture of a Poster

Picture of a Poster

We saw several people parasailing here. I took this picture of a poster showing a plethora of gliders.

Parasailing

Parasailing

We met some Germans who travel all over to do this.

Sailing over the ridges

Back to the Tolminka River

Erik at the Tolminka

Casting the Tolminka

Say Hi to the camera

Morten and Erik wading

Morten hooks one

Reel him in

Bring him to the net

Fish on

Arctic Grayling

Tolminka River Panorama

Fog rolls into the valley

Genie and Gregg at the Soca

Marit, Morten & Erik

Marit, Morten & Erik

Looking over Soca Lake

Genie overlooking Soca Lake

Soca Lake from Sterk Penzion

Soca Lake from Sterk Penzion

where we had a good Slovenian dinner one night

Incredible waters

Heading up the valley

Into Triglav National Park

Julian Alps veiws

Lush woodlands

Following Marit and Morten

Following Marit and Morten

We had two rental cars for our holiday, and followed each other all over Slovenia and Croatia

Steep Ridges, Snow-Capped Peaks

Soca Gorges

Peak views

Looking down into a slot canyon

Gorges of the Soca

Cutting through soft limestone

Big Troughs of the Soca

Genie snaps a picture

River Valley

Blue sky, snowy peaks

Now that's what I'm talking about

Now that's what I'm talking about

Bluebird day, snow on the peaks, breathtaking.

Green Slopes

Pastoral Scene

Wildflowers abound

Source of the Soca

Source of the Soca

High in Triglav National Park arises the Soca River, which flows mightily down the valley it has carved. It emerges from a crack in the rock as a cascade. There are many underground caverns in this limestone. Some rivers disappear only to reappear some distance downstream.

15 Minute Easy Walk

15 Minute Easy Walk

Which wasn't 15 minutes or easy. The last third you held to a steel cable on a ledge over the creek.

Marit and Erik at the source

Marit and Erik at the source

Water emerges blue from the crack in the rock.

Yeah, I made it this far

Yeah, I made it this far

Notice the cable is about waist high to me, out of my comfort zone.

What am I doing here?

Julian Alps in the distance

Alps view

Onward, upward towards the pass

Onward, upward towards the pass

There are 31 switchbacks up and over the pass on what they call the Russian Road. So named because it was built by Russian prisoners of war during World War I.

Triglav National Park

View from the Pass

Summit House

Panorama from the Pass

Gregg at the pass

Gregg at the pass

We watched a guy strap his skies on his back, and take off up the snow couloir behind me. Last we saw of him, he was climbing through the notch at the far left at the top of the snowfield. Planning to ski down the other side to the road back down.

Serrated Edges

Summit View

Summit View

Triglav National Park-Slovenia

Good friends in beautiful places

Gregg & Genie in the Julian Alps

Bled Castle

Bled Castle over Lake Bled

Steeple over the lake

Mute Swan on the Lake

Church of the Assumption

Lunch overlooking the lake

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