Hiking the Holy Mountain

John McKinney

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After authoring thirty books about hiking, I was compelled by extraordinary events to live through—then write about—an odyssey that took me to a remote monastery on Mt. Athos, Greece. My new book, “Hiking the Holy Mountain: Tales of Monks and Miracles on the Trails of Mount Athos, Greece,” tells the story of two treks around Mt. Athos, encounters with a colorful cast of Greek monks, and a series of miraculous events that took place on—and off—the Holy Mountain.

By turns glorious and hilarious, reverent and irreverent, “Hiking the Holy Mountain” narrates my progress and setbacks on the trail and within myself. My friend Spiro Deligiannis joined me on the journey and we were truly the hiking odd couple. Spiro was a tenderfoot, and I was an expert hiker. Spiro was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian and fluent in Greek, whereas my faith was shaky and my Greek was terrible. Spiro believed in the wonder-working powers of the saints and icons, while I was a skeptic who doubted all miracles.

As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, I had a professional purpose for my trip: to hike around the Holy Mountain and write newspaper and magazine stories about Mt. Athos, where no woman has set foot for a thousand years. What I encountered there was an epiphany that changed my life and a miracle that led to the adoption of my son.

Twenty years after the first trip to the Holy Mountain, I made a second trip to Mount Athos with my son Daniel, who just graduated from high school. We traveled with Spiro Deligiannis (my trail buddy from the previous pilgrimage) and his godson Zachary Deligiannis.

“Hiking the Holy Mountain” was just released and I’m so pleased to be able to share this amazing true story with readers from across the country and around the world.