JUST GO: Meet Chris and Caitlin Williams

One of the best parts about yurt life is the people we’ve met along this journey. 

A few months ago, after staying the night in Missoula for a movie premiere, Sean and I met up with Chris Williams, per an introduction from our friend, Hayes (owner of Shelter Designs Yurts). Chris, 27, is a producer of the show Mountain Men on History Channel. Yes—that badass show where the guys live in the wilderness and fend for themselves and their family against wolves, grizzlies, mountain lions and all sorts of crazy situations… that Mountain Men. 

Chris and his wife, Caitlin (a 24-year-old Montana native, who is studying at the University of Montana School of Law) are working toward making their own yurt-life a reality. They currently call Missoula home, with their two pups Schuck Handsome—a 6-year-old sweet, gentle Shiloh Shepherd, and Rumble Mountain, an 11-month-old Tasmanian devil Shiloh Shepherd.

Aside from the fact that we love talking yurts with people, we love hanging out with dog people, and Sean absolutely loves the show, Mountain Men, we had such a good time trading stories with Chris that we wanted to showcase his lifestyle with Caitlin. The pair was just married on July 20th this year, and I believe there is so much to learn from these ambitious newlyweds. 

Meet Chris and Caitlin:

Tell us the short story of how you came to be together.
I (Chris) hosted a Halloween party at my house, and Caitlin found out about it through mutual friends, although we didn’t know each other officially yet. I was in charge of the costume contest, and Caitlin showed up dressed as the BP oil spill, wearing a huge black trash bag with paper fish floating belly-up taped all over it.

I was smitten, and she was the contest winner.

We dated briefly, but then Caitlin shipped off to Scotland for six months to study abroad. We kept in touch by sharing photos and stories of our lives from opposite ends of the globe. When Caitlin was back stateside and staying with family in Massachusetts, I flew to see her and spent the week at her beach house. We made things official when I asked, “Will you finally be my girlfriend already?!” After that week at the beach, I started saving for an engagement ring. The rest is history. 

Best adventure you’ve ever been on together?

As cliché as it sounds, I (Chris) would say our wedding has been the best adventure we have been on together.

None of our backpacking trips or outings could compare to the roller coaster of emotion and excitement that comes with planning a big party with all of the best people in our lives. We decided to hold the wedding in Plymouth, Massachusetts where most of Caitlin’s family lives, so we planned the wedding from 3,000 miles away in Missoula. Of course, my dog Schuck had to be in the wedding, so my brother Curtis flew in from California and drove with me from Montana to Massachusetts with Schuck along for the ride. Once we arrived, it was a perfectly executed series of parties and dinners with friends and family. The wedding day itself was phenomenal. After the wedding, Caitlin and I had the five-day drive back to Montana to decompress, talk about the REAL adventure ahead, and enjoy the road.

Best adventure separately:
Chris: I would have to say my time spent in the world of sled dogs. A photo assignment in college led me to a local musher. After an afternoon spent taking photos and meeting the dogs, the musher offered me a job tending to the kennel and training the teams. I did this part-time for over a year before he asked if I could come with him to Alaska to help with his first Iditarod race. I temporarily dropped out of school and disappeared for a few winter months as we drove through Canada, training the sled dogs and gearing up for the race. I ran the “follow sled” for the ceremonial start through Anchorage, then once the actual race started, I stayed behind to receive and care for the team as they trickled in via bush plane after being ‘dropped’ from the race (basically worn out). I was on this trip for about four months and worked around the sled dogs for a few years. The musher I worked for moved to Alaska and, with the money I got from working in Alaska, I was able get to my pup Schuck Handsome.

From midnight full-moon training runs in the Montana backcountry, to feeding the team on the road at 4:00AM under a blanket of Northern Lights, mushing was a true adventure. One that I hope to revisit, perhaps with my own team, down the road.

Caitlin: The best adventure I have been on personally was the six months that I spent in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad during my undergraduate career, and I was attracted to the rugged, wild appeal of Scotland.

I had never been out of the country before (no, not even Canada!), so jetting off to another country alone was daunting, but rewarding.

During my six months abroad, I also visited Ireland, France, England, and Italy. I did a lot of growing up during that time, learning plenty about wine consumption along the way. I gained some much-needed street smarts, tried haggis for the first time (not bad, actually), and survived an unfortunate bout of pink highlighted hair. I hope to visit Europe again someday, and Scotland will always have a piece of my heart.

How do you balance the everyday grind with your sense of adventure? 

Chris: The best advice I would give is to think of adventure in small, attainable goals.

We may not be able to go on weeklong excursions into the wilderness as often as we’d like, but we try to keep a level of outdoor exposure present on a day-to-day basis. We have a local hiking book that we are currently working through, trying to hit each trail listed. We both bike commute to work and school, often changing the route taken just for visual diversity and some environmental flair. We also just like to shake up modern day convenience: if it is pouring outside, we’ll go for a walk and get soaked. If it is an absolute blizzard outside, we’ll suit up appropriately and go for a hike to look out at the town. My best piece of advice for keeping adventure in your life despite being busy is to own dogs. We have two amazing shepherds that often remind us that we need to drop what we’re doing and go get out and play.

Caitlin: I take a practical approach to attaining balance between the daily grind and some daily adventure: write everything down.

Both Chris and I greatly rely on our daily planners to fit everything in and prioritize. If I don’t write down “Take Rumble on a hike,” it won’t happen. So even if it feels redundant, I’ll write down my non-school priorities right alongside my schoolwork. By staying organized and efficient, it’s much easier for me to find free time to get outside and unwind.

Best life advice. Go.
Chris: Run with dogs. Play in dirt. Dance often.
Caitlin: Never sacrifice sleep. Seriously. Never ever.

Future goals/dreams. Go. 
Chris: Our biggest future goal and dream is to move into a yurt full-time. We are both constantly challenging ourselves with living more simplistically and intentionally, and a yurt inherently has adventure attached to it in spades.
Caitlin: Agreed wholeheartedly. I want a yurt filled with good memories, simple furnishings, and lots of kids (spoiler alert, Chris). 

Who is your role model for a happy, balanced life?
Schuck Handsome, King of Missoula. How can a role model be a dog, you ask? Well, Schuck is the most laid-back, kind, and even-tempered guy around. The outdoors are where he is most himself, he puts great emphasis on a good nap, and strictly adheres to a high-quality diet. What’s not to admire?

This is Rumble Mountain:

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