CUSTER, S.D. — The 36th annual Crazy Horse Spring Volksmarch took place in Custer Saturday despite the unseasonably hot weather.
The biannual event is a 10k – or 6.2 mile – hike to the arm of Crazy Horse Memorial. It is the most popular organized hike in the United States, with 15,000 walkers in a record year.
The event is sponsored by the Black Hills Chapter of the American Volksmarch Association.
Hikers began in the upper parking lot at the memorial and walked a marked trail 3.1 miles up to the top of the memorial.
“Volkssporting” means “the sport of the people,” and people showed up by the hundreds for the event, which was cancelled last spring due to the pandemic.
For some, like Gerald Meyers, whose brother got him started two decades ago, the hike is a yearly staple.
“When I retired, I decided I needed to do something to get some exercise…and he came up here every year, so I decided to join him and come up here…the two of us,” Meyers said.
The two-day event will continue Sunday, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. and the hike starting at 8 a.m.
Hikers have to register before 1 p.m. and must be off the mountain before 4 p.m.
Memorial entry fees are discounted for Volksmarchers ($10/one person, $15/two people, $20/three+ people), and hikers also pay a $3/person fee to the Volkssport Association at registration.
The trail rises 500 feet and can be rugged with steep inclines. Hikers are encouraged to pace themselves as the final elevation is over 6,500 feet. Four checkpoints are spaced out on the route and offer portable restrooms along with snacks and drinks for purchase.