CRAZY HORSE, S.D. (KELO) — Thousands of people hike up to the Crazy Horse Memorial twice a year for a little exercise but also to catch one of the best views in the Black Hills.
Rain or shine, the Otero sisters have been hiking up the mountain every year for the last 18 years.
“We just really appreciate the opportunity to come up here, we appreciate that it’s being shared with the people and that the people have an opportunity to embrace it and learn,” Vickki and Valerie Otero said.
The bi-annual Volksmarch out here at Crazy Horse is a 10K or a 6.2 mile hike. The hike starts down at the entrance. The path takes people all the way up to the top of the monument.
“Coming up here and seeing the progress, it is magical,” Vikki Oterosaid.
“It’s amazing I cried when I touched the side earlier, it’s just absolutely beautiful,” Valerie Otero said.
Not only do hikers get to see the sculpture up close but they also get to meet some of the mountain crew, like Vaughn Ziolkowski.
“It’s great having people come up. We always hear how impressed they are. We hear people coming up for as long as the Volksmarch has been going. We’ll get people 70 plus years old up here and it’s pretty cool to listen to them and all the changes they’ve seen and what the monument means to them,” Vaughn Ziolkowski, Crazy Horse Mountain Crew, said.
Vaughn Ziolkowski is the grandson of Korczak Ziolkowski, the original sculptor of Crazy Horse.
“My grandpa started it and then my grandma took over after he passed away,” Ziolkowski said.
In 1948, Korczak Ziolkowski started the Crazy Horse sculpture by invitation of Oglala Lakota Chief, Henry Standing Bear, to honor all North American Indians.
The Volksmarch has been going on for 36 years. Volunteer Diane Johannesen has been around since the beginning.
“And when you got to the top, there was no face. You could see where the face was going to be but it was pretty awesome and to see where it is now, today,” Diane Johannesen, volunteer with Black Hills Volkssports Association, said.
The record number of people in one year that attended the Volksmarch is 15,000. It’s considered the most popular organized hike in the United States by the American Volkssport Association.
“There’s so many people that make this a family reunion, they come up every year they say, ‘We’ll meet, let’s go do Crazy Horse,'” Johannesen said.
Out of the thousands of hikers, you find people doing it for the first time, like Holly Bohn.
“I’m a first timer so I’m excited,” Bohn said.
The next Volksmarch will be held September 26th. Admission for hikers is 3 dollars.