Help! We’re on the rhod to nowhere!

One moun­tain res­cue team, a he­li­copter AND a wa­ter sup­port unit all called in to res­cue two walk­ers from flower bushes

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By John O’Ma­hony news@dai­ly­mail.ie

THREE res­cue teams, in­clud­ing a Coast Guard he­li­copter crew and a wa­ter sup­port unit, were sum­moned to find two walk­ers who got lost while strolling in dense rhodo­den­dron.

Two men, one from Dublin and the other from Bel­gium, be­came dis­ori­en­tated when they couldn’t find their way out of the maze and they had to call for help.

The bizarre in­ci­dent oc­curred in Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park. The walk­ers, who had a small tent with them, had to camp out overnight be­fore they used a mo­bile phone to sum­mon the Kerry Moun­tain Res­cue Ser­vice on Thurs­day morn­ing.

Due to the sheer scale of the area and the jun­gle-like spread of the rhodo­den­dron, Valen­tia Coast­guard Ra­dio Sta­tion was asked to co-or­di­nate the op­er­a­tion and the Shan­non-based Res­cue 115 he­li­copter was sent for.

The two men, who were in their 40s, had set out on a for­est walk from scenic Di­nis Cot­tage, on the shores of the Lakes of Kil­lar­ney, on Wed­nes­day but they be­came dis­ori­en­tated as dark­ness fell.

Af­ter camp­ing out on Wed­nes­day, they again tried to find their way home on Thurs­day but they even­tu­ally gave up and con­tacted the In­va­sive: Rhodo­den­dron Kerry Moun­tain Res­cue ser­vice at around 11.30am.

Res­cue teams strug­gled to pin­point their lo­ca­tion us­ing grid ref­er­ence and the chop­per was sum­moned to search from the air. The men were lo­cated and they were guided to the lake shore where a boat­man was wait­ing to col­lect them.

A spokesman for the Kerry Moun­tain Res­cue Team said the men were cold and wet but they were not in­jured and they did not need med­i­cal as­sis­tance.

He said it wasn’t the first time that walk­ers had got lost in rhodo­den­dron in the park. ‘It can be re­ally chal­leng­ing be­cause it’s over­head and quite dense.

‘You can’t see where you’re go­ing and you can’t walk in a straight line,’ the spokesman said.

This is not the first time the plant has caused hill­walk­ers to lose their bear­ings.

In June 2014, it took five long hours for two hill­walk­ers trapped in a thick ‘vir­tu­ally im­pen­e­tra­ble’ for­est of rhodo­den­dron plants in the Knock­meal­down Moun­tains to be res­cued. The mar­ried cou­ple, who were in their 50s, de­spite be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced hill­walk­ers and reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to the area at the Tip­per­ary-Water­ford

They be­came dis­ori­en­tated

border, near an area known lo­cally as the Vee, got into trou­ble when they took a short­cut down from the slope of Knock­shanahul­lion.

South Eastern Moun­tain Res­cue and Cahir River Res­cue re­sponded to the dis­tress call.

Rhodo­den­dron plants are an in­va­sive non-na­tive species that have be­come wide­spread in Ire­land.

It was in­tro­duced to the coun­try in the early 19th cen­tury as an or­na­men­tal plant.

Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park said it spends hundreds of thou­sands of eu­ros every year in an ef­fort to erad­i­cate the ‘de­struc­tive’ plant.

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