As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, John McKinney had a professional purpose for his trip: to hike around the Holy Mountain and write about Mt. Athos as a hiking destination, a spiritual adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. What he encountered there instead was an epiphany that changed his life and a colorful collection of wise Greek monks, who taught him that on this amazing path we call life, we're often compelled to change direction.
His friend Spiro joined him on the journey and they were truly the hiking odd couple. Spiro was a tenderfoot, John an expert hiker. Spiro was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian and fluent in Greek, whereas John's faith was shaky and his Greek was terrible. Spiro believed in the wonder-working powers of the saints and icons, while John was a skeptic who doubted all miracles.
By turns reverent and irreverent, John narrates his progress and setbacks on the trail and within himself, as well a series of miraculous events, including the adoption of his son that took place on - and off - the Holy Mountain. Hiking the Holy Mountain 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 is the author of 30 books about hiking, parklands and nature, including The Hiker's Way and Hiking on the Edge: Dreams, Schemes, and 1600 Miles on the California Coastal Trail.
For 18 years, John, aka The Trailmaster, wrote a weekly hiking column for the Los Angeles Times, and has hiked and enthusiastically described more than ten thousand miles of trail across America and around the world. The intrepid Eagle Scout has written more than a thousand articles about hiking plus numerous trail guidebooks, including HIKE Southern California: A Day Hiker's Guide and Day Hiker's Guide to California's State Parks.
One of the nation's top hiking experts, John is particularly passionate about sharing the trails of his home state of California. John solo-hiked the entire California coast while pioneering the California Coastal Trail and is the only one to have visited, hiked - and written about - all 270 California State Parks.
When John McKinney says, "Take a hike!" people do. Many people - hikers and not - credit John's talks and books with inspiring them to hit the trail to a better life. John and his team created The Trailmaster Pocket Guides to share the best day hikes around California, and to give hikers the information they need in an engaging and easily accessible way.
A passionate advocate for hiking and our need to reconnect with nature, John McKinney shares his expertise on radio, TV, online, and as a public speaker. John has been featured or interviewed in major media from the Los Angeles Times to NPR to ABC World News, and appeared on numerous regional talk shows and news programs. Organizations that ask John to share his tips, trails, and inspiring tales include: schools and colleges, churches and retreats, the health and wellness community and conservation and trails organizations.
As John explains it: I've walked a lot of life trails, happy and sad, easy and challenging, and, frankly, more than one path to nowhere. What I've learned along the way I want to share and help others enjoy the benefits of hiking.