When I used to go backpacking in the high Sierra Nevada of California, carrying a load in a Kelty on my shoulders/hips, and another load on my feet with a pair of old-fashioned heavy leather & vibram boots, there was one thing you really wanted to avoid. Bears, well sure, and marmots could be annoying, but losing elevation when you needed to go higher, that was seriously painful. Depending on your physical conditioning, maybe even demoralizing.
After all, I’d already carried myself and my gear, sweating and swatting and sucking wind and breathing dust, from 3,000′ up here to 10,000′, and the campsite was only another 500′ higher, no problem. Unfortunately, it’s not on this mountain, it’s on the next one over yonder, and the trail goes down 1,000′ feet before ascending to the campsite. So I had to re-do that 1,000′ going in, as well as coming out. Suck. Thank goodness the scenery was beautiful.
The problem of losing elevation affected me recently in the guise of losing conditioning. I was off the bike for the most part of four months due to some medical issues that included a bit of surgery. As any serious cyclist knows, how soon the conditioning vanishes, perhaps even more rapidly at my advanced age. Over the past couple of weeks I have been able to get back in the saddle and start riding again, but oh, it’s painful. All that hard-won ability to go up, go long and go fast, it just abandons you remorselessly.
Not just the lost ability, but also the fact that things hurt now that did not hurt before. The first few times out my elbows were complaining, no longer used to leaning forward on the bars. My sit bones squawked even more and have not stopped. But I need to put up with it to get back where I was. Thank goodness the scenery is beautiful and that I have a lovely gal to ride with.