Hiking the Holy Mountain a Talk by John McKinney (Keynote, adjustable length)

“We can’t thank you enough for your exceptional presentation. You inspired many with your experiences on Mount Athos, and stories of the miracle you received.”—Judie Christopoulos, President, Philoptochos Society, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

“The presentation by John McKinney on “Hiking the Holy Mountain” made to the Brothers of our local Chapter of AHEPA and subsequently to the parishioners of our St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church was a beautiful and moving experience for all attendees. His book and talk wonderfully transforms doubt into faith.—Ernest Kolendrianos, MD, AHEPA Chapter 243

“Hiking the Holy Mountain” is John’s most popular talk. While the ‘plot’ and colorful cast of Greek monks in “Hiking the Holy Mountain” seem like they came from a movie script, this is very much a true story! Audiences love this tale of ancient traditions, modern-day faith and family.

“I was a reluctant pilgrim to say the least,” John admits. “But one thing I’ve learned from all my time on the trail is that on this amazing path we call life, we’re often compelled to change direction.”

“Hiking the Holy Mountain” is John’s most popular talk. Audiences love this inspiring tale of ancient traditions, modern-day faith and family.
“Hiking the Holy Mountain” is John’s most popular talk. Audiences love this inspiring tale of ancient traditions, modern-day faith and family.

John was compelled by extraordinary events to live through—then tell the story about—an odyssey that took him to a remote monastery on Mt. Athos, Greece. “Hiking the Holy Mountain” is the story of two treks around a monastic kingdom where no woman has set foot for a thousand years, encounters with a colorful cast of Greek monks, and a series of miraculous events that took place on—and off—the Holy Mountain. This spiritual adventure is one of the all-time best tales of adoption, a splendid hiking narrative, and a story of faith and family that will be long remembered.


By turns glorious and hilarious, reverent and irreverent, “Hiking the Holy Mountain” narrates John’s progress and setbacks on the trail and within himself. His friend Spiro joined him on the journey and they were truly the hiking odd couple. Spiro was a tenderfoot, and John was 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.

As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, John had a professional purpose for his first trip: to hike around the Holy Mountain and write newspaper and magazine stories about the trails and natural beauty of Mt. Athos. What he encountered there was an epiphany that changed his life and a miracle that led to the adoption of his son.

The drama builds with a return hike of the Holy Mountain eighteen years later, to introduce his son to the Holy Mountain, to the monk who foretold his arrival into the family, and to the saint who the monks believe granted John and his family the miracle that blessed their lives.

Contact John McKinney
Contact us by email (Cheri@TheTrailmaster.com) about John McKinney’s Hiking the Holy Mountain Talk or give us a call at 805-845-7102 to book John for your next event. Be sure to ask about copies of John McKinney’s new book: “Hiking the Holy Mountain: Tales of Monks and Miracles on the Trails of Mount Athos, Greece.”

After his presentations, like this one at the St. Sophia Philoptochos, there's time to talk one on one, and get autographed copies of John's new book, "Hiking the Holy Mountain."
After his presentations, like this one at the St. Sophia Philoptochos, there’s time to talk one on one, and get autographed copies of John’s new book, “Hiking the Holy Mountain.”