Alan Hamilton in the meat. Photo by Mark Lisk.

Alan Hamilton in the meat. Photo by Mark Lisk.

By Dave Shively

Alan Hamilton's 1987 first raft descent of the North Fork of the Payette is definite hero grist. Continuing to run that Class V Idaho classic top to bottom for the next two decades, however, boosts the Idaho cataraft pioneer into the upper echelon. Though he flipped on his first raft trip (on the first wave of the Lower Selway's first rapid) Hamilton was hooked from the start. He's now celebrating the 20th anniversary of Argonaut Inflatable Research and Engineering (AIRE), a company he founded with, among others, Kris Walker, his partner on a handful of late-80s first raft descents. AIRE's thick-skinned fleet of inflatables continues pushing the possibility of ever more challenging river trips. Good news for the next generation seeking out the Golden Fleece of future first raft descents.

This story first appeared in the March 2009 issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine.


Richard Bangs // Greg Barton // Tao Berman // Paul Caffyn // Graham Charles // Serge Corbin // Nigel Dennis // Dubside // Steve Fisher // Bob Foote // Dan Gavere // Alan Hamilton // Freya Hoffmeister // Mick Hopkinson // Nikki Kelly // Payson Kennedy // Rob Lesser // Anna Levesque // Martin Litton // Brad Ludden // The LVM/T-Dub Connection // Sean Morely // Nappy Napoleon // Michael Peake // Scott Shipley // Jim Snyder // Rush Sturges //