NPCs in the area
- Everlasting Dragon (This Dragon allows you to join the Path of the Dragon covenant).
Enter Ash Lake from The Great Hollow, you will come down a half-pipe, hollow-log ramp. At the end of this ramp, you should turn immediately right and head for the Bonfire visible on the sands to your right. This is to avoid the massive Black Hydra. ( EDIT: This Hydra is fairly easy and since you are right next to a bonfire, you may just as well kill it and obtain two Dragon Scales and 10000 souls - see Black Hydra for strategy) After killing the Hydra, head towards the left where you will see a dead body with a Dragon Scale.
NOTE: If you wish to avoid the Hydra, lighten your equipment load, cast a spell or equip an item that hides you or makes you less easy to detect, and run along the crest of the sandy ridge towards the giant tree in the distance. While doing this, you will need to use the driftwood found along the way to block the Hydra's water-attack. (Inside one piece of driftwood is a corpse with a Dragon Scale.) Note that the Hydra will not always be on your left. It will leap across to the lake on the right or the left depending on where it can best get at you.
NOTE: A quick save and quit will reset the Hydra back to its original point in the ocean, this is helpful once you make it past the first Giant Tree as it wont realize you are past it and just stay there, leaving you to run the way to the Everlasting Dragon unhindered.
Continue to your right where you will see a hollowed tree laying across the sand. Enter it and collect another Dragon Scale from a dead body. Heading towards the large tree along the beach you will see two Man-Eater Shells. Each give about 200 souls each with a chance to drop Twinkling Titanite. Just before you reach the large tree, you can see another dead body in the water to the left. You can collect another Dragon Scale here.
The first giant tree you come to has a ramp hidden at its base that you can enter through, and a root/branch ramp on the opposite side that also allows entry. If you enter via the hidden passage you will walk straight into the hollowed tree and bump into two Basilisks, which can curse you, and a Mushroom Parent. If you enter via the ramp you will encounter another Basilisk waiting for you around the side of the tree. ( NOTE: Be careful as you travel underneath two big roots leading over the ramp, as the camera might suddenly switch direction, sending you for a dive) About half way around, look down over the edge of the branch path towards the water and you will see the tip of a hollow log protruding below you. It is a part of the tree. Drop down carefully and land inside the tip of this tunnel/log and head back inside tree to find the Miracle: Great Magic Barrier.
Beyond the first giant tree there is a winding sandy path heading towards another large tree in the distance. Deviating a little way from this path will land you in deep water, which is deadly, so be careful! On your way (being wary of the Hydra if you didn't kill it) you will see a depression in the sand with a Man-Eater Shell inside, which is much easier to kill if you can keep it in the hole. Further along the winding path you will reach the last of the large trees. This tree contains a bonfire and the Everlasting Dragon. Praying to this Dragon will allow you to join the Path of the Dragon covenant. You can also go around behind it and cut off its tail to get the Dragon Greatsword. Don't worry about being attacked; the Everlasting Great Dragon is non-offensive and seemingly impossible to kill (invincibility CONFIRMED--Attacked Stone Dragon for 1 minute, he would just go to 1hp. -EeAyEss)
NOTE: There is trick where the Hydra will instantly die upon touching the land, it happened for me when it flew to the opposite side it was originally at, and when I was out of range, it attempted to make it back to its original spot by moving towards the land, but not flying over it...And seconds later, it just died.
NOTE : In the current game version, as of 24 October 2011, this is a repeatable bug. If you want to take the wimp's way out to defeat the Hydra, then you can do so without landing a blow on it. Start from the first bonfire. Run along the beach, being sure to aggro the Hydra along the way. Do not stop to fight any enemies, just keep running for the far end of the map. Try to always keep some stamina in reserve for when you hear the Hydra starting to use its water blast ability - this is a good time for a sprint. Give the crabs a wide-berth - they can 1-shot you. Once you get onto the narrow strip of land at the far end of the area, the Hydra won't be able to follow you. Keep running to the far end of the area, to the second bonfire and the Everlasting Dragon. DO NOT REST AT THE BONFIRE. If you don't have the greatsword from the dragon's tail, go ahead and get it by cutting off the dragon's tail; doing so will not provoke the dragon to attack you nor break any covenant. Now, turn around and run back the way you came. As you approach the Hydra, it will move up onto the land, get stuck in the large tree and just... die. 10,000 souls and 2 dragon scales will be yours instantly. This is a bug-exploit. It will probably get patched at some point and it is not a "fair" means of killing the boss. This should be a relatively easy mini boss for all bar pure-melee builds, so if you're struggling with him, your character or your play style may have other issues you need to address. ( Since patch 1.05 this doesn't work anymore for me. Is it fixed?)
NOTE: As an alternate method for killing the Hydra with minimal risk, start from the first bonfire in the area and equip a strong bow (a 100% physical shield is also a good idea). Start running along the beach, towards the first tree. The hydra will be on your left, but if you keep running along the right side of the dune it shouldn't be able to bother you too much. What you want to hear is the sound of the Hydra crossing over to the other side of the lake (your right). When you get to the first tree, drop down behind the sand dune and quickly run into the hollow with the two basilisks and the mushroom parent. Kill all three, then go back to the entrance of the cave and look to your left. You will be able to see the heads of the Hydra, and can attack them using your bow, however its water attack will be unable to hit you due to the ridge of the dune. You may need to move around a bit to get a good angle on the various heads as you kill off others. Be careful when walking towards the main body of the Hydra, as you can get close enough to trigger the physical attack. Just switch to your shield when walking and you'll be able to block the attack if it comes. With a +5 enchanted bow, using heavy arrows, each head took about 15 arrows to kill.