I escaped the fast-paced, rat race dictated by living in the suburbs of one of the largest cities in the world at 20 years old. I scored my dream job as a Middle School Teacher at 23 and started adventure traveling all over North America. At 25 years old I was rushed out of my office in an ambulance just as the school day was coming to an end. When I returned from my hospital stay, I took back over my life and started putting more time and effort into planning adventure travels and sharing them here on this platform.
Escaping the Fast-Paced New York Life
I was born, Kaitlyn Fortier, to two phenomenal parental units who worked as New York Cities finest. Because of this, I grew up 45 outside of New York City enjoying the summertime beach life out on eastern Long Island (LAWN-guy-LAND). I attended a large, fiercely competitive High School where I participated in Varsity-level athletics, was a member of several clubs, and challenged myself with Advanced Placement and Honors coursework to climb the class rank ladder.
By the time my senior year came around, I knew I wanted out. High School can be tough for even the most seemingly normal individuals. I needed out and I wanted to get as far away from that High School as possible so I could rebuild and rebrand myself. After applying to and receiving acceptance to several out-of-state schools, I settled on my safety school in upstate New York. I took a leap of faith leaving my hometown to attend college over 4 hours away in Cortland, New York, and never looked back.
I attended SUNY Cortland to pursue a career as a Physical Education Teacher. I dabbled in Varsity athletics, played a little club volleyball when that didn’t quite work out, and made the decision to be a Resident Assistant for 2 years. I made great friends and amazing memories while maintaining a reputation for being an above-average student.
I extended my coursework by a semester to graduate with an additional teaching certification in Health and a concentration in Adapted Physical Education and did so with the highest GPA in my major. I thoroughly loved the college experience. And in the final two years of college, I had the best college experience one could ask for. It’s what truly drove my interest in the outdoors and exploring it more deeply in a truly rugged way.
Being Forced into Nature, and Loving it
All Physical Education Majors at SUNY Cortland are required to take a course -that was- titled PED 308, Outdoor Education for Teachers. It was a two-week-long summer course in the Adirondacks. As an underclassman, you heard the stories of your peers returning bruised and battered after 14 days away from their cell phones, being chased by bears, drinking their gray water, contracting Giardia, and even worse… not being able to shower for 5 days straight!? Say what.
The summer after my junior year of college I drove up to Raquette Lake in May equal parts eager and nervous to spend two weeks in nature. Well, let me tell you… this is where it all began. I THRIVED. I loved every ounce of being rugged. I ate up every bit of Adirondack history, each of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles, our debates on Outdoor Ethics, the skills, and the feeling of pure bliss after accomplishing all the cool things being out in nature forces you to do.
This was a huge turning point in my life. I started to crave the outdoors – the danger and adventure of the wilderness called to me on a regular basis. It became part of nearly every decision I made after this point… A year after this experience, the undergraduate life came to an abrupt end and it was on to bigger and better things for me, Spencer, and all of my classmates.
It’s All Downhill After College
During my college years, I met Spencer and we’ve been adventure buddies ever since. I decided to pursue a Master’s degree at a school where I could be close to Spencer instead of staying at Cortland and studying Outdoor Education. I moved to Western New York where I worked a number of odd jobs while studying for my master’s degree and became a Bills fan.
In the grand scheme of things, I always wonder what life might look like if I had stuck with my true passion and stayed at Cortland – but I must say, life is pretty good the way it is right now. We stayed local for about 6 months before I accepted a position in Central New York, just an hour south of the Adirondack Park. Luckily, we both landed teaching and coaching positions within miles of one another which has allowed us the freedom to explore near and far on our school breaks and weekend.
I’ve always loved teaching and adore my students; the time spent physically at school mixed with the emotional time spent thinking and worrying about my students and athletes, combined with the stress of getting all the work done, being here there, and everywhere all at once – all of that – I didn’t exactly love. I didn’t love the toll this was taking on both my mental and physical health. I struggled to find the positives in my day. I lived for the weekend getaway but still found myself hiking along a beautiful trail stressed about the upcoming school week. I truly didn’t think I could spend the next 30 years of my life teaching…
On February 12th, at 25 years old, I suffered a major stroke during my 9th-period class. I couldn’t see, could hardly speak, and couldn’t move the left side of my body. My co-teacher, best friend, and savior completely saved the day by forcing my stubborn @$$ to accept that something was terribly wrong and that I needed to go to the hospital. After receiving TPA, I made a full recovery in a mere 7 minutes. The doctors attribute my full recovery to my overall health and fitness – this has only made me an even more avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, cross county skier, snowboarder, climber, and weightlifter.
Bring on The Growth
My healthy journey continued with a few additional procedures, including a PFO closure the following May. I consider myself lucky to not only be alive, but to be able to think, express myself, and move my body in the ways that I love every day. This near life-ending (or at least ending life as you know it) experience has provided me perspective like none other.
I’ve grown tremendously since February of 2018 in all aspects of life. I’m a better person all around… a more loving wife, a more understanding teacher and coach, a more present family member, an even more devoted friend, and a more appreciative explorer. Along with the growth I’ve made in all of these places, I’ve become a better blogger and content creator. I strive to provide quality, educational content on all platforms and it has paid off.
As my adventures grow, so does the blog. For the third year in a row, The Expedition Education Blog is experiencing over 100% growth from one year to the next.
Our Time to Explore
In the last 8 years I’ve managed to hike, bike, and board thousands of miles and spend well over 100 nights sleeping outside. Although we always wish we could hike or bike just a few more miles or spend one more night in our tent, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.
Our adventures together, which started all those years ago with local New York day hikes, have since expanded to include outdoors adventures all over the North East, cross country National Park trips trips, and more. We love being able to share our outdoor adventure travel planning tips and itineraries with all of you. We’re so gad you’re here! Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my story.
Exploring, in all forms, is my favorite… which makes me the planner of all our trips. I also do all of the writing and the legwork behind the blog. It can be exhausting to be the sole planner, to be the one always trying to convince the other that something is a good idea, but it’s always worth it in the end.
Kati’s Fav Adventures!
Make sure you get out there and explore with the ones you love! Happy Trails Ya’ll