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hiking the Emerald Trail

Arriving in Bovec at the tail end of a rainstorm, we caught barely a glimpse of the stunning Soča River, but even that glimpse left us at a loss for words. The water, a ghostly grey on a foggy day, turns an ethereal shade of teal when it is lit up by the sun. With the exception of a tiny portion of the Rio Celeste River in Costa Rica, we had not seen anything like it, and beautiful though the Rio Celeste is, it is a poor comparison to the Soča, which runs for miles, starting as an underground spring in the Julian Alps before emptying out into the Adriatic Sea.

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We picked up a trail map at our hotel, which gave garbled directions to several waterfalls as well as outlining a trail of moderate difficulty “along the goat paths.” Poor though it was, the map was still a vast improvement on both of our guidebooks, which gave disappointingly short shrift to Bovec’s charms.

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Our favorite hike was along the Soča River gorge. There is a tiny village of the same name that is spread along the banks of the river. We left our rental car at the church and hiked for half an hour through a small forest and an even tinier hamlet of a village until we arrived at the gorge. The river was resplendent and it carved a scenic little canyon in the rocks.

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S was a bit disappointed that the hike was not more exciting, especially since we learned that it was possible to simply drive to the same spot. She quickly cheered up, however, when we found a forest trail that had not been mentioned in our trail map running alongside the river. Instead of following the paved road back to our car, as our map suggested, we doubled back through the woods, enjoying various opportunities to see parts of the gorge that were inaccessible from the roadway.

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Bovec is typically billed as Slovenia’s adrenaline capital — a convenient launching pad for canyoning, paragliding, and whitewater rafting enthusiasts. With Munchkin in tow, those activities were clearly off the table, and we very nearly skipped Bovec as a result. S feared we might regret not being able to do any of the adventure sports for which the area is famous, and that this would detract from our stay. Our two days hiking along the so-called Emerald Trail laid that worry to rest.

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