Found Deceased Spain - Esther Dingley, from UK, missing in the Pyrenees, November 2020 #5

Discussion in 'Located Persons Discussion' started by FrostOwl, Nov 29, 2020.

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  1. PeggyHenry

    PeggyHenry Well-Known Member

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    See info below .. not sure if this explains it:

    Look for the gray location tag listed at the end of the post. Facebook posters can let their friends and followers know their location by posting a status update and selecting the icon to "add a location to post." The GPS or wireless connection attached to the device where the post was made determines city and state, ...
     
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  2. PeggyHenry

    PeggyHenry Well-Known Member

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    I’m starting to think that this whole trip from end of October to the time when Esther went missing was less of a hiking expedition than previously thought. Yes, she hiked but as said earlier there appears to have been more time spent not hiking.

    It seems to back up the theory of Esther and Dan having a break from the relationship with Esther taking off in the van. She then lives each day at a time, meets people, makes friends, actively pursues ‘being with people’. She probably feels very much in need of friendly faces and company. Hence she is prepared to hang around in order to wait for opportunities to hike with people.
    She may feel quite ‘directionless’ as anyone would in that position. Up and down emotionally.

    Her and DC are communicating via messaging. The only think I can gauge is that she certainly isn’t rushing back to the house sit. She is being vague in her messages to DC which is probably frustrating for him, indicated by the many messages he sends her..
    no wonder the police have said all options still on the table.
    ETA SMM keeps on finding these hidden gems of information that really develop an understanding of the situation - nothing is ever what it seems!
     
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  3. BoraBora

    BoraBora Active Member

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    Yes! Just want to thank SMM for your amazing observations, so much to think about now.
     
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  4. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    Yes. This. I think she sounds a bit desperate for company, any company, and to be fair, I think she was.

    But with winter drawing in, and fewer and fewer people being around, she may have jumped at the chance to spend time with anyone, and some of those could have nefarious intentions.

    Her need for company could have overridden her filter for potential danger.
     
  5. stmarysmead

    stmarysmead Well-Known Member

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    First and foremost, let me say I absolutely believe that Dan loves Esther very much. I believe he is fearful and suffering. But IMO, something else besides love and fear are driving his public statements since the disappearance.

    The FB page and the blog are part of a business. That business has an essential narrative. The narrative is that these two highly educated successful young people threw away everything for love, adventure and a simple life. They coexist in a tiny camper with 5 adopted dogs...and here’s the important part...they lived happily ever after. That’s the essential narrative behind all these books they have for sale.

    Now, just IMAGINING HERE...what if...just as they finally start to get the big marketing attention they need to move these books...suppose they start having serious relationship issues. Esther leaves. But they both have a commitment to the books, so they say and do what they must in the interviews. They act like everything is blissful and the 5 dogs are still part of their roaming family. That’s okay...they have a shared financial interest. So IMO, they “fake it.”

    They do what is needed for the business.

    But when Esther disappears, what to do? Protect the narrative or tell some inconvenient truth?

    IMO What Dan reports as Esther’s state of mind and the state of their relationship is seemingly at odds with her statements, witness statements and her very telling actions.

    IMO Dan seems trapped in his public statements in protecting the marketing narrative. He has to insist that she is an expert in their sport, that she is attired correctly and has healthy eating habits. But experts on this site have pointed out problems with all of these statements. A witness has come forward rather stunned by her lack of proper food. The subject of the dogs is even glossed over because they are part of the charm of the marketing narrative. He is specific in some areas of the dossier and IMO purposely vague in others.

    IMO, he makes ED look like a character in a romantic/adventure novel...and in a way, that’s problematic to the public helping if she ISN’T in the mountains.

    I believe Dan has been candid in private and talked to the investigators...AS investigators....and not as journalists writing marketing pieces. I believe this because I do think he loves ED very much. But I think part of what has made this whole mystery seem “off” to me, is the way his public announcements seem to not be supported by Esther’s words, actions, and inactions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  6. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Well-Known Member

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    I don't find it strange because it happens a lot. My husband and I are always flabbergasted by the number of times, while hiking far away from a trailhead, we stop off trail and someone decides they need to walk off trail and join us. Humans are very social. Solo hikers do this all the time, and as we are a middle-aged couple, we look "safe." We do not welcome such encounters, as we are both very private and our jobs are very social - we're there to get away from humans, frankly.

    And it happens in and around wilderness areas as well. We camp in national forest (less supervised) campgrounds quite a bit. Last time we were out, in the fall before the pandemic, in a campground where the host was about a mile away, a woman approached us almost immediately after she and her SO arrived in their motorhome. My husband actually got up and left the campsite, deciding it was a good time to gather wood. I expected a brief conversation, did not invite her to sit, but she sat anyway.

    Soon I knew way more about her and her SO than I ever wanted to. They were van life people, for at least half the year. Then came the attempts to find out who we were, what we did for a living, etc., etc. Eventually I said I had some business at another campsite (there were some people who had forgotten their food at home, I went to take them some extra food we had...this woman started to follow me, so I made it clear that I wanted to walk by myself.)

    There is a lot more to this single event, but the upshot is that people approach strangers in the wilderness or in remote campsites, all the time. My husband has been asked by solo women travelers to help change tires, to help them start a fire, to help them figure out their tent. It's so common that when we see people's feet leave the common path and head into our campsite, we have our plans to avoid incoming conversation. We've also learned to seek out dispersed camping (thank goodness for its existence) and less traveled trails (believe it or not but people on the main trails at Grand Canyon are SO social...it's crazy to me).

    Many people enjoy this type of vacation interaction, no doubt about it. Naturally, if a solo hiker is truly in distress, we help (we've given water, food, mylar blankets and navigational aid to others). If we think someone is in distress, we do inquire politely if we can help or we contact a ranger to report if possible.

    People befriend solo women travelers more often than they do solo men, for the same reasons that people pick up women who are hitchhiking but might not do so for a man.

    My husband also points out that it's unclear what Esther's immigration status in the EU might have been. Did either of them have settled status in any EU nation and if not...were they planning to live in EU regardless as long as they could? (Lots of people doing that right now, but it's stressful). House-sitting does not seem to be a job that permits a work visa for France, IMO. At any rate, Esther and Dan's entire lifestyle was under strain from the upcoming reality of the 90 day limit for tourists in the EU. Almost any couple would feel the stress of such an abrupt change in lifestyle.
     
  7. IrisElizabeth

    IrisElizabeth Well-Known Member

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    Esther has Dutch nationality - she was born in Amsterdam to a Dutch mother and English father. So she would have been fine staying within the EU indefinitely. I’m sure if they ever wrote about what Dan was planning to do, I vaguely remember a mention of applying for settled status in France.
     
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  8. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    To be honest, if you can't start a fire or figure out your tent, you shouldn't be even solo camping in the first place!

    It's ridiculous and completely irresponsible if you don't have these basic skills. And if there's no-one around to help you, then what?

    No wonder so many solo hikers and campers disappear. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.
     
  9. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Remember way back I was burbling about how I had looked at ED in her pack and was quite certain she wasn't carrying much weight? It would sag more? She's carrying it like a day-hike pack?*** I concluded from this that ED didn't actually have the right equipment for the trip no matter what lists were presented about the equipment she owned. I was pretty certain she didn't have all that stuff on her.

    Supposing I went in the wrong direction with my assumption? That the reason the pack looked so light is that she wasn't intending any kind of significant overnight trip?

    I still think she went up the Pic the second time just because she could get a cell signal.

    And by the by (or whatever that expression is), contrary to the dossier, the loop trip near the Pic was not at all within ED's "reach" either by experience or by conditions, if she'd never been on a solo trip much before, let alone in winter.

    ***
    When I load that exact pack with my standard 12 lbs total of weight blocks, whoever I'm fitting thinks it's at least 20 lbs! I would bet ED was carrying less than 12 lbs. Considering the stuff that she had in it that she evidently puts on while she's up the Pic, there's not a whole lot of other stuff.

    That pack design looks a lot bigger than it really is, BTW, and it's too tall proportionally for her body frame IMO (it sits too low on her butt and would tug her backwards), which may account for why someone she met gave LE the idea she was carrying a lot of stuff. IMO looking at it, she wasn't carrying much of anything, at least on the final trip.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  10. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    Which is a worry, because she started up the trail very late in the day (witnesses saw her going up around 16.00hrs) so she would have been coming down part way in the dark.......and wasn't she planning on spending the night at a refuge?
    So, why didn't she take more food, 2 flashlights, a sleeping bag etc. She sounds so under-prepared, almost amateurishly so.

    To go up that late anyway was silly. What was she doing that she couldn't go up earlier in the day?
     
  11. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    I'm thinking she wasn't actually intending to make that trip... The previous night she had spent at the Cabane. I would guess she had her sleeping bag with her, and the Cabane likely would have had significantly insulated mattresses (a necessity in winter to keep you from freezing, no matter how warm your sleeping bag is--Her own mattress was an uninsulated inflatable, which could have given her hypothermia with ambient temperatures the way they were). Maybe she had her "10 essentials", but maybe not: they aren't on the dossier list, either as their own line item or individually.
    There's no food or water included on the dossier list. For a 4 day trip, properly furnished, that would take 12 lbs, 8 for food and 4 at any one time for water. There's no first aid kit, no coins, no passport, no toothbrush, no credit cards, no piece of closed-cell foam, no toothpaste, no pencil, no piece of paper.... all of this stuff adds up super quickly!
    ED had good equipment, but for summer conditions. And her pack should have been VERY much heavier than it looked in the summer, because DC would not have been carrying his share of the equipment for both, e.g. their tent, ground cloth, stove, pot etc.
    I once did the numbers, and ED would have been well in excess of 25 lbs if she had everything on the list plus essentials. The pack she was wearing on the Pic trip doesn't weigh 25 lbs. Not even close.
    I walked for months carrying 25 lbs. It doesn't look like that. Especially on an Osprey it doesn't look like that. (ED's is an Osprey).
     
  12. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    Just had to google it for non-Americans.
    So, 25lbs is 11.5kg which is quite a hefty weight and you're right, I doubt Esther was carrying anywhere near that.
     
  13. BobbleBob

    BobbleBob Well-Known Member

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    Just on the back of the above comments, something, something I’ve been thinking about for a while is whether Esther has been camping overnight at all during this lone trip?

    This is all speculation on my part:

    From what I’ve seen/remember, bar the one night with the Eastern European lady who lives in Spain (I’ve forgotten her name and don’t have the time at the moment to search for it again) who spent the night in a refuge with Esther do we have anything to prove that she was actually camping out during this period?
    Perhaps this is why Esther didn’t have much food with her because she wasn’t intending to stay out on her own, or had planned to meet up with others and share their food?
    Perhaps this is why SAR found no trace of her in the refuge, she had never been because she had never intended to go there in the first place?
    Or perhaps someone was going to meet here there (a hiker from a previous hike) who didn’t meet her in the end (perhaps talking to them on the pic, hence the length of time she spent up there) and Esther returned down the pic to a lower refuge or had aimed to go back to the camper?
    And perhaps, as has had been mentioned in a previous comment, the reason that a couple of Esther’s posts say Sweden as the location is because someone with a Swedish sim used their phone as a wifi hotspot and shared with her?

    As for the backpack, I’ve the Atmos 65 (bigger than what Esther and Dan use I believe) and it’s currently got 10kg/22lb of junk in it at the moment and you can see it’s packed full. But more importantly when I have it on my back and look in a mirror I can see that it’s physically heavily pack. While it’s very comfortable you can see that it is very heavy and doesn’t sit like Esther’s.
     
  14. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Snipped for focus.

    Exactly. ED had an Exos 58 which is 7 liters smaller in volume than the Atmos 65 if you're comparing medium to medium (packs are measured on the medium, with men's larger than the women's as well IIRC).
    Also, the Exos sags more than the Atmos because the belt is quite flimsy. It has a lot less support. It also doesn't carry weight as well (it's a lot less robust). So, yeah, the Exos would be sagging significantly with 25 lbs in it (approx 2 lbs per kilo).
    25 lbs on a woman looks even more significant than on a man because of differences in upper body strength. Both the Exos/Eja and the Atmos/Aura tug women backwards. You can see them jerking along the trail with every step. That will also give you an idea of weight.
    I used an Osprey Aura 35 (you read that right) on a chunk of the AT (maybe a month or 6 weeks). Since fully-supplied for 4 days (at standard 2 lbs per person per day), with a typical 2 liters of water, it weighed maybe 25 pounds, I can guarantee 25 lbs was quite the draggy experience. I can also guarantee that you can't really go lower than that overnight. My gear and clothing weighed significantly less than ED's. So, I surmise she wasn't taking enough (or the right) stuff for overnight in winter, solo.
     
  15. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    Wow, RickshawFan. Well done getting 11kg worth of stuff in a 35 litre rucksack! You must pack like a marine! :cool::p:D
     
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  16. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    I don't believe she ever planned to 'camp out' with a tent as such, except for one or two nights in a cabane/mountain refuge......and I don't really think she had the right equipment for that either, given the temperatures up there and also going by what others here have said.

    MOO.
     
  17. PeggyHenry

    PeggyHenry Well-Known Member

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    Just been reading recent discussion and very thought provoking .. what if she hadn’t intended that overnight hike at all.
    You ve been mentioning lack of provision, bad timing i.e late afternoon etc. What if this was not planned but suddenly forced upon her. Did someone ask to meet her at fairly short notice? Maybe said don’t worry about carrying x, y and z as I’ll have it. Or simply she didn’t have time enough to pack properly. Everything that has been said seems to point poor preparedness such that this overnight hike was not properly planned. If that is the case then why? So maybe at 2 pm she has a conversation and arranges to meet near the Pic. Off she goes, in an excited rush, meets Vigo, asks for fruit or something fresh.. up she goes. Gets to summit and has video call with Dan. Nothing sent to instagram
     
  18. Tortoise

    Tortoise Well-Known Member

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    There was one photo Esther posted to facebook on 7th November, of her rather precarious outdoor sleeping arrangement. I won't post it here in case there's no permission to, but it's basically her inflated sleeping mat on a steep mountainside, with what looks like a crumpled tent on top of it, moon in the background. There are other photos uploaded at the same time so it's probably from a day or few days previous. Facebook
     
  19. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    That is horrendous. No shelter from the elements at all.
    In fact, it doesn't even look like a tent, but just a collapsed heap of material.

    I'd be embarrassed to put that photo on facebook. Other hikers/campers will be horrified. I know I am. And it gives me cause for concern.
    I'm not even sure she'd have taken a little mattress and tent up there anyway on her last hike up the pic.
    If she did, and she died due to hypothermia, she'd surely have been found during the search....or at least her tent/matrress would.

    But this photo proves I think she was in a bit of a hot mess and was doing this trip on a "oh, it'll do" mentality and not thinking through consequences of preparedness and time.

    MOO.
     
  20. stmarysmead

    stmarysmead Well-Known Member

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    This photo is stunning...in all the wrong ways. Thanks for finding it and thanks to all the experienced trekkers who can ‘interpret’ for the rest of us just how unprepared Esther was.

    This photo must be from the 4 day/3 night hike with the “ new friends.” The same group that she waits days in the camper to join again.

    I just noticed when looking through her posts again today, she re-posts a lot of the same pictures over and over again. A casual look at her FB gives the appearance of new adventures with corresponding new pictures posted frequently. But actually she’s repeating photos quite often.

    RickshawFan, your insights always get my mental wheels turning. Putting your thoughts together with Bobbiebob’s great post...I think we might be onto something.

    As BobbieBob suggested, maybe she goes up the same pic, late in the day, and unprepared because she has no intention of staying in the mountains. She has a planned meeting set with someone. She has waited herself till later in the day because this person has some distance to travel to meet her.

    On the pic, she has WiFi to communicate with that person as necessary...and make any other contacts she wishes to make. As the dossier points out, she is just 1 1/2 hours to a road and maybe a waiting car. Whether this person has good or evil intentions...we don’t know. We do know Esther trusts easily, has no concerns about getting in cars with strangers, and will wait days to be with people she likes. Maybe she was just ‘dipping into France’ with this person. Just my imaginings of course.

    This ties in with Jenpil’s observation. Either her lack of correct preparation shows a cavalier lack of concern for her own safety...or she never intended to do a 3 day hike at all. MY opinion, of course.

    One other thing that peaks my curiosity: why the switch from texts to a video chat in her last contact with Dan? What had to be asked or said on a video chat rather than in a text?
     
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