Tolminska Korita: Going Back


This photograph was taken at Tolminska Korita, in the mouth of the cave, Zadlaška jama. After eating trout from the river at Gostilna “Slap” Vinko Pavić and following a tip to knock on the door of Bojan Kavčič to buy delicious Tolmin cheese (, we made our way to the southernmost entrance of Triglav National Forest, where we found forest trails and caves and the magnificent gorge.

Four years ago, I entered this same cave, Zadlaška jama, the place that inspired Dante’s hell of The Inferno (no kidding), in nothing but a pair of sneakers and a thin sundress. I wasn’t prepared for the cold and the dark. I became disoriented and quickly lost the writing group and fellow cave trekkers I’d been traveling with in Slovenia. My husband had died six weeks earlier and I was in a bit of an altered state–so disorientation, actually, had become my new normal.

This week, I sat in the mouth of the same cave, dressed like someone who can properly take care of herself, a person who can navigate the elements. It’s funny going back to places we’ve been. The Tolmin Gorge of today is a much different place than the one I encountered four years ago, because I am different. I no longer feel weightless, moving along trails on tip-toe, barely noticing the forest around me. I’ve gathered the kind of substance you find when you are relentless about facing your reality–even when you wish you could float away like a fairy in a sundress.

I thought I’d feel a sense of melancholy on the rainy day in the foothills of Triglav National Forest, going back to a place I’d been when I was so distraught four years ago. But instead I felt content, happy even. My child was with me, my dog was there. A good friend held my hand. The terrain became difficult as we wandered along uneven and slippery trails in the woods, but the silence that enveloped our hike created a stillness that felt like comfort. There was not a sense of going back and there was not a sense of moving forward. There was just that moment. I saw beautiful white stones in the forest as we hiked. I saw a a blue river. I saw light between the trees.




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