Why you need to learn how to watch the sun rise
Have you been watching sunrises wrong? I was.
I’d set my alarm for ten minutes before official sunrise, stumble outside for a few minutes of photos, and then go for breakfast (or back to bed). Thanks to a veteran Quebec sunrise watcher I was introduced to the rituals of a proper dawn vigil in Forillon National Park on the Gaspé Peninsula, arguably one of the best places in Canada to welcome the day.
“I’d really recommend watching the sunrise from Cap-Bon-Ami,” my fellow traveller and Quebec sunrise expert intoned, as we sat around the campfire on my first night in the park.
“Sounds good,” I replied eagerly.
“We need to leave at 4:15 AM,” she drawled.
“Whatever for?” I asked with the ignorance of someone who’s never truly seen a sunrise. According to my phone app, sunrise was half past five.
“Because you need to see the sun rise,” she explained, stressing two words and not one.
Setting my alarm for an hour I used to get home from the disco (back when John Travolta dancing in the white suit was cool), I put on all the clothes I brought, knowing extra layers would keep me warm near the dark ocean.
The Mi’gmaq people called the eastern edge of the Gaspé Peninsula where land ends and there is something spectacular about watching the sun emerge from the sea that can’t be replicated further west.
We skirted a fox on its nocturnal hunt as we left the darkened campground and a few minutes later pulled into the parking lot at Cap-Bon-Ami. We flicked on flashlights as we descended wooden steps to the water’s edge.
The moon and stars twinkled above but soon the faintest started to disappear as if angels were turning them off in advance of the big show.
A cool breeze picked up as the temperature difference between land and water shifted.
Sitting near cliffs sheltering Black-legged Kittiwake nests, I listened to birds chortled a dawn chorus that wouldn’t be repeated during the day while the horizon slowly appeared.
A pair of seal heads popped from the waves, their eyes trained on me, seeming to wonder why an interloper was interrupting their morning patrol.
Shortly after 5 a.m. the sky glowed as orange as the inside of a Christmas orange, the line between sky and ocean getting brighter until the sun finally popped above the horizon. As the sunshine kissed the tip of the Appalachian mountain range, its rocks older than Pangaea, I knew I’d truly seen the sun rise.
I soaked in the early morning warmth, taking pictures that looked rather blah after the pre-dawn spectacle and walked back to the car. I met several people hurrying towards the beach, blankets wrapped over their shoulders and cameras pointed east. “Amateurs,” I thought and realized I wouldn’t be one again.
For what to do after the sunrise check out Ten Things You Need To Do For A Perfect Day At Forillon National Park …