Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
It has been cold around here, at least by our standards.  Overnight temperatures have been dropping into the twenties F.  That's below freezing for pretty much all of you in the rest of the world.  Arctic air masses sometimes find a pathway down the Fraser Valley in Canada.  The cold air will continue to spill through western Washington, down the Puget Sound Basin.

It is not unusual for our winter temperatures to stay above freezing.  The downside of our warmer winters is that it can also be overcast, gray and drizzly.  At least the colder weather sometimes brings sunshine.  That's been our situation for the last few days, very cold with bright sunshine.  It's not all bad.

Seashore  Bluegrass (Poa macrantha)
One of my favorite things to do is get out in the winter cold, hike around the countryside and take pictures.  Yesterday, I headed over to West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  This special place provides the opportunity to explore sand dunes, beach, forest and lake shore, all in one location.  I got there fairly early in the morning and had it all to myself for a while.  It was probably about 26° F (-3° C) at the time.  Ice had formed on the edges of Cranberry Lake.

Kinnikinnic (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
I never know what I will find to photograph on these outings.  Sometimes I go out looking for something specific.  Usually, I end up finding the unexpected.  What caught my eye yesterday was heavy overnight frost.  It was decorating the plants and surfaces along the Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail.  I had arrived early enough to catch it before the rising sun made it disappear.  The icy adornments gave everything along the trail a unique wintry look.  I tried to capture that in the photos.  Everything was shot exactly the way it was encountered, without staging or alteration.  Enjoy this album of winter photos from the Pacific Northwest.

Yarrow (Achillea millifolium)
Salal and Moss
Beach Cobble
Sand Dune Moment
Kinnikinnic and Salal
Madrona Leaves (Arbutus menziesii)
Common Juniper (?) (Juniperus communis)
This is still somewhat of a mystery plant for me, but I have tentatively ID'd it as Common or Ground Juniper.  I have found it in only one spot growing prostrate in a large mat at the edge of the dune forest.  There is another photo of it from a previous visit.  If anyone knows for sure what this is, I would enjoy hearing from you.

Please enjoy my other accounts of visits to West Beach and Cranberry Lake: