First axiom of walking
The interest of the walker’s thoughts increase in direct proportion to his load being lightened and the day cooling. Gradient is only important at extreme ends of the spectrum.
Nothing beats walking along a contour high above a great evolving view.
The second axiom can be entirely nullified if your boots are hurting you badly.
Racing downhill with a load on will damage your knees eventually even if you think it won’t.
Passes beat summits every time on a multiday hike.