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
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.