Speer and Karen Sousa run Speer Hammocks out of their home in Marion,
NC, escaping to the mountains of western North Carolina whenever possible.
They are active members in many outdoor-focused organizations including
the Appalachian Long Distance Hiking Association, Appalachian Trail
Conservancy, the National Speleological Society, and the Geological
Society of America.
has a long association with the outdoors. Growing up in the mountains
of western North Carolina only wetted his appetite for outdoor
adventure. His parents were avid campers who took him on many outdoor
trips. Before long, he was leading his own trips into the wilderness
and spending more and more time in the outdoors. By his college years,
he was an accomplished back country traveler who was comfortably hiking,
camping, canoeing, rock climbing, fishing and caving throughout the
Ed turned his love of the outdoors into a career as an exploration geologist,
which greatly expanded his time outside. Earning Geology degrees from
the University of Missouri and the University of Arizona led to work
assignments throughout the western and southern US, as well as parts
of Canada, South America, and Africa. His successful career focused
on gold and diamond exploration. After years of acquiring the necessary
skills, he turned to epic outdoor adventures, including a 1,600-mile
solo kayak trip along the west coast of Canada and Alaska. More recently
he has hiked over 5,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, including two
complete hikes from end to end.
In addition to Speer Hammocks, Ed is a part-time geological consultant,
most recently working for a nearby emerald mine.
Karen's adventures have kept her a little closer to home. Growing up
in southeastern Connecticut, she spent most weekends out on a boat or
at the beach. Her love of the outdoors was bred into her early by parents
who choose to be outside whenever possible. One of her fondest memories
is of climbing a mountain her first day at college and bushwhacking down
the far side, even if it meant finding her own way back to school.
Karen's early career as an Emergency Department nurse didn't allow for
extended journeys, her desire for wilderness activities continued into
adulthood, supported by hiking, fly-fishing and other outdoor adventures.
Karen's interests in the outdoors have recently led her to such endeavors
as hiking almost 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail solo and extended canoeing trips to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. She is currently pursuing
a career in the medical software industry and telecommutes from home.
Ed and Karen are avid hammock campers and help spread the good news with websites, newsletters, vendor and workshop activities at outdoor events, and hammock campouts open to everyone. They sponsor three campouts every year at the family campground in Hot Springs, NC as well as a dead-of-winter campout each New Year's Eve on Springer Mtn, GA at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. Information, including dates, on these campouts can found on the home page of this website.