MountainLove | Sharon Dietrich and Chuck Potter

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, we interview Sharon Dietrich on her 37-year marriage with Chuck Potter, after meeting on a hike in 1978.
Kristina Ciari Kristina Ciari
Membership & Communications Director
September 04, 2018

In each issue of Mountaineer magazine, we feature two lovebirds who met through The Mountaineers and share a passion of the outdoors. In this column, we interview Sharon Dietrich on her 37-year marriage with Chuck Potter, after meeting on a hike in 1978. 

Long story long, how did you two meet?

I was leading a hike in the Olympics with The Mountaineers to Moose Lake, near Hurricane Ridge (also called Grand Lake). Chuck grew up in the area and was camping with a friend. It started to rain; just a downpour! The group of Mountaineers I was leading were not very experienced and I felt continuing would be a bad idea. I guided the group into a shelter and convinced them to forego the loop trip, returning the way we came, in order to save several miles and 800 ft of elevation. Chuck and his friend were also in the shelter, and chose to hike out with us.

I paid little attention to the two men, as I had 10 wet hikers to worry about. I do remember that one of the men was in good shape, perhaps younger, and better looking than the other, who was older and balding and a very tall, big man. Chuck asked one of the hikers my name, which I was not aware of.

About one week later I got a call from Chuck. He had gone to REI to ask about hiking groups in Seattle and they referred him to The Mountaineers. He called the office and told a story about finding a nice wool stocking cap in the shelter, saying that he was trying to reach me to return it to its owner. They gave him my full name and phone number! This was 1978, after all. That sort of thing would never happen today

When I got the phone call, I really didn’t know which of the two guys was on the other line. He described the situation and confessed to getting my phone number under false pretenses, but said he was interested in taking me on a date. I said yes.

My face has never been very good at disguising things, so when he came to my apartment to pick me up, my face immediately told him that I was hoping it would be the other guy. Ever a man of good humor, he said, “Yeah, it’s the bald one.”

Something told me that I probably ought to dress up, and he ended up taking me to Canliss for our first date. We were a couple after that, and were married four years later. We’ve been married 37 years, and remain best friends and soul mates to this day. Chuck has dementia now, but he remembers the past. So, we talk a lot about our many hiking and backpacking trips.

What’s your favorite outdoor memory together?

Chuck has always been more interested in backpacking, and I’ve always preferred day hikes, but one backpacking trip into the Olympics stands out. About 25 years ago we took two weeks to explore. We went in at Hurricane Ridge, starting out at Obstruction Point, then going down into Grand Valley, then up and over several other passes. We carried all of our own gear and did not get resupplied, so we were quite laden down. But we had gorgeous weather that September, no rain and 75-degrees, and met maybe three people the whole trip. We saw a lot of wildlife and got pretty close to some bears. Not on purpose of course! One morning we got up to find a pile of bear crap right outside the tent!

We have a lot of amazing memories together in the outdoors. We did the Chelan Crest Trail one year, a few trips in the Olympics, and parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, including all of the Washington sections, together.

Do you have a favorite piece(s) of outdoor gear that has been pivotal in your relationship happiness?

Our three-person tent with an alcove. My husband is a large man. And neither of us likes dirty boots in the inner tent!


If you know a couple that met through The Mountaineers, email Kristina Ciari, Mountaineers Communications Director, at kristinac@mountaineers.org.


This article originally appeared in our Summer 2018 issue of Mountaineer  Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.