As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, John McKinney had a professional purpose for his trip: To hike Greece’s Mt. Athos, also known to Orthodox Christians as “The Holy Mountain,” and write about it as a hiking destination.
What McKinny encountered there instead was an epiphany that changed his life — and a colorful collection of wise Greek monks who taught him that, in life, humans are often compelled to change direction.
His friend Spiro joined him on the journey. Together, they became the embodiment of a hiking odd couple.
Spiro was a tenderfoot. John was an expert hiker. Spiro was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian and fluent in Greek. John’s faith was shaky and his Greek was terrible.
By turns reverent and irreverent, John narrates his progress and setbacks on the trail and within himself. He also recounts a series of miraculous events, including the adoption of his son that took place on and off Mt. Athos.
The result is a captivating book about McKinney’s journey called “Hiking the Holy Mountain.”
His book is a powerful one-of-a-kind story of saints and icons, ancient traditions and modern-day faith and family.
“Both as travel narrative and as spiritual reflection, ‘Hiking the Holy Mountain’ takes the reader to a place where heaven and earth meet, where one encounters miracles on a mountain trail, where holy men shoot ouzo with wandering pilgrims, and where saints hear the supplications of those reluctant to pray. This is the best kind of travel writing because it recognizes the fact that the most important terrestrial journeys explore the geography of the soul. And it is the best kind of spiritual writing because it points us to the God who meets us as we traverse the trails of life on earth.” — Ben Daniel, author of Thoughtful Christianity: Faith and Action in the Way of Jesus
About the author
John McKinney, aka The Trailmaster, is the author of 30 books about hiking, including The Hiker’s Way and Hiking on the Edge: Dreams, Schemes, and 1600 miles on the California Coastal Trail. A passionate advocate for hiking and our need to reconnect with nature, John lives and writes in Santa Barbara, California.