Well, it happens every year after my return from Sfakia, invariably with at least one encounter with hikers who I had to talk out of an ill-considered scheme. It's a frequent topic of discussion among the regulars. Even some local residents are beginning to voice discontent with the cavalier attitude with which some visitors approach the hiking. Apparently, those oft-mounted rescue operations are free of any cost to the victim. In contrast, ski resorts in Austria sell helicopter rescue insurance. Otherwise, you pay the bill. I did suggest that rescue services get into the habit of handing over a bill.
Anyway, it sensitizes me to the etiquette (as it were -- 'responsibility' might be a stronger term to use) of advice-givers. The point for me is that empty reassurances to strangers is not a good idea. Information is what's needed: information about trail options and conditions, information about potential risks, information about safety measures that can be taken. Poor information (eg provided by those silly car rental maps) can be worse than no info at all, as it gives a false sense of security.
Here's another anecdote about Aradena. I was coming down from Ag. Athanasios, intending to enter the gorge and go up the other side. I paused at the spring to watch three hikers (they couldn't see me, as I was above them) - a German couple and a teenage son (?). They were at a narrow section of the gorge, where the paths weaves past a large boulder. However, they paradoxically somehow missed the fact that the path went around the boulder. Both man and boy clambered on top of the boulder and slid down. It was a 3-4 meter drop. This left the woman on top, who was visibly shaking, while they tried to talk her down. She finally lay flat on her stomach, spread her arms and slid down herself. I've twisted an ankle doing less. So, how can you lose the trail on the floor of a gorge, and at a point that was maybe 4 meters wide anyway? Sorry, I don't know the answer to that one.
The personal element is difficult to predict. Back in the day when the Sunflower hiking guide seemed to be the only one around, the coast trail between Loutro and Sfakia had a couple of double-exclamation mark warnings to vertigo sufferers. It was enough to put me off the endeavour for 2-3 years. When curiosity finally got the better of me I headed out to have a look for myself, feeling increasingly nervous as I approached the critical sections. As it turned out, I was so far within my comfort zone that I wasn't sure where the troublesome section was supposed to be.
But never underestimate the effects of vertigo on a true sufferer. I was once sitting by the chapel at the top of the west-side kalderimi at Aradena, and was watching a couple starting a descent on the other side. After about three turns in the descent, the man stopped and the woman continued down. I watched him with my binoculars. He was terrified to the point that he could barely move. He literally flattened himself against the rock face, arms spread, and slid slowly, crab-like, back up the trail. He didn't even dare lift his feet.
Note to Nick: that was a French couple. Both man and wife died .. initially dehydration, resulting in disorientation. Something did happen to one of them, and the other struggled on to find help, lost the trail, etc. One would think, while sitting down at Loutro, with the entire route to the top in plain view, that nothing could ever go wrong. Well, it can. Effects of dehydration can strike quickly, and if a person panics or gets confused, and starts making wrong decisions, anything can happen.