Missing hiker's photo diary in lead up to tragedy

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

Investigators are studying the last photos taken by missing hiker Esther Dingley in an effort to piece together how the experienced hiker vanished two weeks ago during a solo trek.

British couple Ms Dingley and her partner Dan Colegate had been documenting their travels around Europe for the past six years, uploading videos to social media and blogging about their adventures.

The couple seemed to be living the dream and followers eagerly awaited their updates.

On November 29, Mr Colegate shared with their Facebook fans that Ms Dingley was missing.

“I'm broken. Shattered to report that my beloved Esther, the person who taught me how to feel, is missing,” he wrote.

Missing hiker Esther Dingley in what is believed to be the last photo she took.
The last photo believed to be taken by hiker Esther Dingley before she went missing. Source: Facebook

The experienced hiker had set off on a solo trek in the couple’s camper van to the top of Pic de Sauvegarde in the Pyrenees on the Spain-France border while Mr Colegate stayed at a farm in Gascony in France.

During the trip Ms Dingley updated followers on her progress with photos and detailed Facebook posts where she explained she was struggling to find her way, constantly finding herself “off track”.

In her last Facebook update on November 20 she described struggling with the weather and not having enough food for the night.

Ms Dingley said she had eventually made it to the top of Pic de Sauvegarde and after meeting a fellow hiker who offered her a lift back to her camper van, she decided to go with him.

She ended the post saying she was due to return to her partner on November 25.

“Yoga, good food and sunshine and warmth awaited me back at the camper... Tomorrow is another day…” she posted.

Esther Dingley (left) and her partner Dan Colegate (right).
Esther Dingley (left) and her partner Dan Colegate (right) have been documenting their travels around Europe for six years. Source: Facebook

The last time Mr Colegate heard from his partner was on November 22 when she sent him a selfie, he reported her missing three days later.

Photo diary to unravel hiker’s last known movements

The Sun reports rescue teams have found no trace of Ms Dingley and French and Spanish police have been using her photo diary to unravel the last moments before she disappeared.

In the last photo believed to have been taken by Ms Dingley, she can be seen at the summit of Pic de Sauvegarde with a solar panel and telecommunications mast in the reflection of her sunglasses, a trek she had made two days prior.

A bear attack is one of the theories being explored by investigators.

On November 18 Ms Dingley uploaded a photo of footprints she was following that she suspected to be from a bear.

“Can anyone let me know if this might have been bear prints?” she asked her followers.

Photos from Esther Dingley's last known days before she went missing on a solo hike
Esther Dingley wrote that she struggled sleeping alone as she became lost, wet and hungry on a solo hike. Source: Facebook

Although she posted to social media in the following days, it’s reported hiking in the area was banned during the summer due to a string of brown bear attacks on livestock.

Police are also hoping to track down the stranger who gave Ms Dingley a lift back to her van. She never identified the man in photos but posted images he had taken of her.

In March, the couple had also shared with their followers they had been struggling to get along living in the small van, revealing the close living quarters almost broke up their relationship until the pair decided to take online relationship courses.

Mr Colegate wrote that he has been asked to stop posting updates and photos on social media at the request of investigators.

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