In the 1880s, long before she became her era’s greatest female explorer, eight-year-old Harriet Chalmers traveled through the Sierra Nevada on horseback with her father. A few years later, at age 11, she impressed a local reporter in Santa Cruz when she swam 500 yards without resting. That same year she stopped her formal education to take lessons from her father and tutors.
When she was 24, Chalmers married Franklin Pierce Adams, and a few years later they set off for Latin America, where they covered 40,000 miles by horse, canoe, foot, and train.
She and Franklin rode through the Andes, across peaks 23,000 feet high. They crossed foot-wide paths, crawled over single-log bridges, and were stuck in a storm so