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Early Winter Rides and Walks

Our friends, Ross and Marion, had suggested doing a ride on the unsealed road over the Maruia Saddle. Always ones to go for rides on unsealed roads, we jumped at the opportunity. We started our ride in Murchison and headed down a lovely valley with stunning views of the mountains off in the distance. The day was a bit overcast, bit still glorious. It is the northern hemisphere equivalent of early December here. We (all but Ross) did have tights and long sleeves, but it was very pleasant for getting out in our woolies. After all New Zealand is the land of sheep, and we can't have all our wool clothing going unused.
We neglected to take any photos of the lovely mountain views, but we will definitely head back to this spot as it was some of the best riding we've found. Most unsealed roads around here get a substantial coating of gravel, and are graded regularly to pile that gravel back up in tight corners, making riding a bit more technical on accession than I'd prefer. This road was more like a classic Vermont dirt road. Almost no gravel, nice hard pack with beech leaves forming a berm, and good gradient. It climbed up through native bush with a few rideable stream crossings. We stopped for lunch in an open area about halfway up the climb. This way we could warm back up on the remaining climb. The descent was grand, lovely and twisty and through more native bush. We finally remembered the camera at the bottom!
We took the main road back to Murchison over the Shenandoah Saddle. This valley is lovely and green and somewhat reminiscent of the Shenandoah in the US. As we were riding along we noticed a few Shetland ponies in a field and stopped to offer some food and attention. They were so cute running along on their stubby little legs, and seemed quite happy to be fed long green grass from the other side of the fence!
Monday was the Queen's Birthday holiday, and the skies in Nelson were lovely and clear. We haven't made much use of our hiking boots lately, so we decided to break our feet back in on the Cable Bay Walkway.
The view here is back toward Nelson (our house is out there somewhere). We were reminded how great our back yard is, having such lovely walks and rides just out the door. (OK, we actually did drive about 10 km to get to the start of this walk). While I am wearing long pants, it was definitely a shorts day. I do have to remind myself that it is early winter here.