[SPOILER - author's interpretation follows]
There was very particular reason for the awkwardness of the jumping sections, which I'll explain here, though of course whether the effect worked and was worth their inclusion and difficulties may vary for each player.
The 3 navigational puzzle areas were intended to represent transitional challenges in life. The first (narrow, escalating platforms) was entering into the world of academia through the troublesome admissions process, traveling from the rolling hills where the spiritual farmer resides to the more constructed domain of the skeptic student. The second (blurred trails of 7s) was building upon the writings and discoveries of others to draw conclusions beyond what present research has yet to rigorously prove, as it is necessary to do to succeed in life outside the academic domain. The third (dark cave) was an attempt to tie everything together though the objectivity of accepting the subjectivity of others, hoping to highlight that besides the farmer, student, and wild animal being separate from us, they see things differently than we do - that there are places they can go we cannot, and there are ideas and ways of thinking very much like theirs that are (or can be) at work within us.
To mark these as periods of reflection, moments turning off autopilot to think about the journey so far and the uncertainty of what's next, it was necessary to make these rooms in each case to cause the player's initial assumptions fail. This is contrary to the design of fun gameplay, which otherwise tends to assume the user's mental model coming in should be respected and rewarded. Being a tad frustrated activates thinking - what am I doing, what should I be doing, what have I not tried. Were the jumping and cave sections made smoother, I worried they might be driven by thoughtlessly, seen but not considered, ignored as the inflection points between major shifts in life perspective.
My design goal for those offending sections, then, was to make them awkward enough for their difficulty to be apparent and meaningful, but not so awkward that people quit at any of the three without advancing. I may well have overshot a tad in this direction. In any event, I am glad that you made it past each.
Thank you for the feedback!