In my planned circuit around Höfsjökull in Iceland, the biggest of the 15–20 fords will be Þjórsárkvíslar. Travel writer Fabrizio Frascaroli describes fording this river; I have included an excerpt below, a bit long but I found it too beautiful to shorten.
Fabrizio was hiking from Nýidalur, a location at least 20 km (as the crow flies) east of Þjórsárkvíslar. I will be arriving from the north, from the area around Klakkur / Háalda / Háölduhraun, so my route is different. Counting on the DMA C761 map, there are 23 small (<18 metre) and and 2 intermediate (18–25 metre) crossings between Klakkur and Arnarfell, with the biggest ones at 28N 7182500 619250 and 28N 7174900 611200. Þjórsárver is in the middle of it. I don't know exactly where this wide but shallow and quiet river is located but it looks unproblematic despite its large size.
What is the safest route for crossing Þjórsárkvíslar when arriving from the north? Are there any established locations that travellers have used in centuries past, perhaps indicated by cairns or not?
I wake up to my alarm clock at 3:30 in the night: it is time to wade, and the favour of the morning’s earliest hours is required, however masochistic that may feel. The weather conditions look optimal for the upcoming challenges: entirely dry, still, and as cold as it gets in July.
It must be roughly 8am when I start the Þjórsárkvíslar crossing: the dreaded springs of Þjórsá, Iceland’s longest river. One after the other, I leave behind all the threads of an endless web of streams and rivulets.
I feel a mixture of relief and disappointment about the smoothness of my progression, but it is not meant to last much longer; it is promptly dissolved by the appearance of the river’s last branch, frightening in all its breadth and might, surrounded by the notoriety of grim tales and warnings. The water’s depth varies in a range generously estimated to be between 50cm and 150cm. The prospect of confronting a violent flow up to my chest has admittedly been the source of many headaches over the last few days. In the end, however, the Þjórsárkvíslar will not treat me that badly. The water level suddenly rises above my waist, but with a detour upstream I am able to find a relatively innocuous course in shallow waters, all the way to the other bank. I do not know how long I have been soaking in the river, probably some ten minutes. What’s certain is that as I gain the high ground again, the bite of the cold has made me totally hazy, I am speaking in tongues and can hardly remember how to spell my own name.
Source: Fabrizio Frascaroli, Across the country in 40 days, published on grapevine.is. Downloaded 22 August 2017.