Hollow Top Lake


I ❤️ GYE
May 31, 2015
August 14-15, 2021

It had been over a month since my last trip, so I was getting the itch to get out backpacking again. I also wanted to attempt to stay in shape for two other trips planned for a bit later. So my dog Penny and I went for a quick Saturday-Sunday overnighter to the Hollow Top Lake area. It was Penny's second time backpacking with the Ruffwear pack.

It was predicted to be fairly smoky (like it had been pretty much nonstop since early July), and it was going to be hot. I don't like packing my backpack right before bed, so I decided I'd pack the day of the trip and just get a late morning start.

It was probably mid 70s on the way up, but it felt very hot because the first couple of miles are not very shaded. Penny, who usually loves charging up the trail, clearly wanted to turn around and head home. I promised her that shade and a nice walk through the creek would be coming, and we carried on.

Hot dog. I keep her on the leash because she likes to plow forward and go out of sight otherwise. She usually waits up for me, but it stresses me out when I can't see her. We've tried training her on recall, but she's probably 50-66% at best. So leash it is, and it doesn't bother me too much.

Heading up. The trail is double track until you get to the first crossing of the creek. Dirt bikes are actually allowed up the trail probably 3/4 of the way to the lake. We only saw two dirt bikers when we were up there.

After we had gotten up higher, looking back down the canyon toward Pony.

Taken from the same spot, but looking up kind of to where we were headed.

I guess I didn't take any photos in the woods or anything because this is the next one in my files. Made it to the lake.

Nice views through the trees.

Looking out at the lake from near camp. There must have been a big wind event a few years ago, as you can see from all the downed trees on the left. We walked through there a bit later.

Nice, sandy beach in the other direction.

Backpacking buds.

We found a great open, flat spot with lake views to set up at. After setting up the tent and dropping some ballast, we headed up the trail into the deadfall to find Deep Lake. Someone, probably the Forest Service, had cut through a ton of the downed trees, but only for a ways. The trail soon became impassable due to piles of deadfall, so we went off into the woods to bypass it. The area of deadfall was very localized and not on anything resembling avalanche terrain, so it must have just been a very strong, narrow wind gust that took so many down. I'm still a bit puzzled by it.

More deadfall in one place than I've ever seen before.

We passed this small pond on the way.

Deep Lake



We didn't push on to Skytop Lake because I was hot, hungry, and tired. It was really close by too, so I'm a little sad now that I didn't just push through. Oh well. Just have to head back sometime.

Old... rusty thing at the foot of Deep Lake. Reminds me of a small wheelbarrow, but certain parts of it make me question that.

We got back to camp and Penny cooled off in the creek nearby.

Sleepy and relaxing in camp. Have you had enough dog pictures yet?

As I got ready to make dinner, I realized I forgot my eating utensil. I do that probably 50% of the time. Haven't learned my lesson still. So I found a forked stick and used that. Not ideal, but it worked. Imparted a nice piney flavor to my rehydrated beef stroganoff.

More smoke started blowing in as we got into the evening.

I wandered around looking at little details because I get a little bored when I go solo (no offense to Penny). I found this very old trash pile under a pine tree near camp. Lots of very old cans.

Smoky sunset

I forced myself to stay outside until 9 p.m., then we went to bed. I read from Grizzly Country by Andy Russell in the tent. May be my favorite outdoors/nature book I've read.

It was a nice peaceful night, but the scent of smoke was in the air all night. Probably wasn't a good night for my lungs. We got up a little before sunrise, I took down the tent, and we started hiking out. It was supposed to be even hotter than the day before, so I wanted to be done before it even warmed up for the day.

Even smokier than the day before

We got back before it got too warm, and we headed on out. Nice little trip, and good introduction to wearing the pack the whole way. She got to share it with her brother Walter the time before this.
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I know @Bob probably knows best, but that bucket reminds me of something I call a Slip Scoop that is used to move dirt behind one of my tractors. I suppose one could also be harnessed up to a horse too.

View attachment 102925
Another likely suspect. I know there was considerable mining activity in the Tobacco Roots, but to my knowledge, there weren't any mines right near that lake. The lake had an outflow restricting device, so it could have been used when that was installed.

Or maybe someone hauled it up there last year after using it as a lawn decoration for several decades. Haha. I will never know!
I have seen similar around old mines in AZ and NV ....... could be the tractor thing as well ....... or used for either.
Thank you for the write up! I have a good chunk of in-laws that live in Pony and my wife has many fond memories from her youth. Every time we visit, I try and find a way to sneak up towards Hollow Top, but the best I can do is stare and imagine. The photo of Deep Lake is great! Looks like a great chain of lakes to expolore.
Thank you for the write up! I have a good chunk of in-laws that live in Pony and my wife has many fond memories from her youth. Every time we visit, I try and find a way to sneak up towards Hollow Top, but the best I can do is stare and imagine. The photo of Deep Lake is great! Looks like a great chain of lakes to expolore.
That's awesome. I wish I had family that lived in Pony. Haha. What an interesting place to live! Yeah I'd really like to get up higher to see the other lakes and summit Hollow Top. I'll try it on a day when it's not so smoky and hot. Haha.
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