Two Lakes Loop Journal

The Indian and Celina Recreation Area is a tranquil get-away in the midst of the Hoosier National Forest. The recreation area contains Celina Lake (164 ac.) and Indian Lake (152 ac.). It is located 3 miles south of Interstate 64 off State Highway 37. The recreation area offers camping, electric motor boating, fishing, and hiking, as well as a interesting historical site.

Oct 21st 2005 -

I started out early after dropping my oldest son off at school, which was about 7:30 am. View of Celina lake from the Rickenbaugh houseI arrived at Celina lake around 9:00 am. Upon arrival I immediately made a wrong turn and ended up at the boat ramp near the Rickenbaugh house, I seem to do this everywhere I go and I’m not sure why. Once I found the trail head (first parking area on the left), I grabbed my gear, locked my truck and headed west toward Celina lake. I ended up hiking the trail clockwise, this wasn’t my intention at first, since all my info seemed to be for a counter clockwise hike. I thinks it’s a left handed issue, which explains why I’m not a NASCAR driver.

I headed down the trail and soon came to the interpretive trail and the Rickenbaugh house. The old rock house on the banks of Celina Lake was built by Jacob Rickenbaugh, who came to the area in 1854. Rickenbaugh, who was born in 1822, acquired 320 acres of land here that year. He had selected the land for its abundance of fine old white oak and chestnut trees. As a tanner of hides, he needed a substance called 'tannin' from the bark of these trees to use in the tanning process. The site also had springs and fresh water which was another requirement of the tanning business.I stopped long enough to check out the home and also to adjust my pack straps. Better to get things comfortable now so I’m not in pain on the trail. Prior to arriving at the home I had noticed that the trail conditions were a bit damp from previous days rain, add some wet leaves covering a mossy stone and you’ve got a recipe for injury. After realizing that I need to be cautious were I was walking (this will back fire later), and making my strap adjustment I headed off into a nice cropping of rock, Rock Outcropinterpretive signs tell you of the Rickenbaugh history here, along with early Indian usage. From there I headed off to the south side of Celina lake where I ran into an older gentleman with a rifle, full hunt wardrobe and dreams of the big gobbler. He explained the trail signs and pointed me in the right direction, I thanked him and headed on my way.

From there it was about 2 miles more or less through traditional old forest mixed with areas of pine. The hike was moderate, not too many elevation changes at this point of the trail. I came to a small campsite off the trail, but it was still too early for lunch, and my destination was the dam crossing at Celina lake.

I took a photo of the campsite and headed towards my destination for lunch. Not long after leaving the campsite I broke my hiking stick and had too find a suitable one laying around. I left mine, which was drift wood, and headed off down the trail again. Leaving that hiking stick was a dumb move I would realize later at camp.

On a serious note, A hiking stick or pole is one of the things I’m glad I brought with me, it was very helpful while hiking uphill and also crossing Tige creek.

After hiking for a while I finally broke from the forest and headed down hill to a clearing at the dam, the awesome view distracted me from watching my footing on the trail and I went down like a large clumsy moose. Luckily the ground was there to break my fall. I will remember this because coming down the hill I was listening to a country song about “dust on the bottle”, now every time I hear that song I will remember falling on my duff at Celina lake.

I stopped here at the dam crossing to take a lunch break and to adjust the weight in in my pack, I still was not happy with the balance of it. It was also a perfect chance to soak up the view a little bit. It was fairly dark for the time of day, 2:00pm, and it was starting to mist.

I ate my lunch, refilled my water bottle, packed everything up and headed off to my final destination for the day at Indian lake. With a full belly I crossed the dam and headed into the woods again. This is where I was glad I had a hiking stick because the elevation changes were becoming more noticeable now. The climbs were moderate , but were never too long before leveling out again. When I reached the highest point of elevation, I noticed that the weather was a bit different than before. The skies were really getting dark and being in a higher elevation it made things seem worse than they really were. I took a photo here because the air was so thick with moisture, it looked like one of those movies about 16th century England.

I actually enjoyed it, it’s something I don’t get to experience hiking at home. From here I headed down to my final destination for the day. I set up camp at the Indian lake dam, there was a well established campsite here so I decided to stop for the day. It was still a bit early for anything, I had just eaten and really wasn’t tired, so I decided to build a fire. Now I consider myself a reasonably good fire starter, “just ask my parents about that morning in ‘74, but I was struggling to get this fire going since everything was wet and soggy.

Remember the hiking stick I broke and threw away about 2 or three miles back ?

Well, since the only thing that was going to dry the wood was fire, the challenge was on! I took about 10 of those cotton ball / Vaseline fire starters and used about 5 to finally get things burning.

I’d also like to thank the big dead tree next to the fire, the underside bark was nice and dry. I was quite proud of my achievement , I took many photos.

I was glad to get the fire going, camping is just not the same without a nice fire, and the temperature was beginning to fall into the low 50’s. that not real cold, but it’s enough to make you put on your extra clothes from your stuff bag. I had everything that I needed too, thanks to my friends at the thrift stores.

I also had every color covered , but who cares, I was comfortable and waterproof !

Now that I had established the fire I felt it was time to set up the tent and get things ready before dark.

“My choice of location will backfire on me later”, but for now it looks fine. With that done I decided to Make some coffee and head down to the lake to check out the view and to relish in my new found tranquility that was surrounding me.

After relaxing for a bit I decided it was time to rustle up some grub, it had been about 4 hours since lunch and I was getting hungry. I had 2 choices between chicken w/ broccoli and rice or salmon. I chose the chicken, I just wasn’t quite sure how to fix the salmon. I was going to make a patty and fry it in oil over the fire, but I opted for the less messy of the two.

After dinner I cleaned up and prepared my pack for the rains that I was sure were going to come while I slept. I really couldn’t put my pack in the tent with me so I covered it with a 50 gallon trash bag that I brought and it covered the pack nicely. With that done I climbed into my tent for the night to do some reading before bed, that’s when I noticed that I had put my tent on a downhill slope. Now every time I tried to get comfortable, I would just slide to the front of the tent. Well I was going to have to deal with it, I was not going to move it now, no way.

I managed to get situated enough that I could read my story that I had put on my palm pilot, plus I had a few games to play to make the time pass. It wasn’t long and I was ready to hit the hay. I never did get comfortable enough to sleep through the night. I awoke about three times throughout the night and one of the things I remember most was the rain falling. You could hear it coming from a distance and then hear it move away. It was very tranquil but was often poisoned by the sounds of trucks Jake braking on the highway. Aside from my tent woes, I stayed fairly warm. I never got chilled at all.

I awoke a final time around 4:30am and decided to just get up. I had heard the rain fall all night long but it never seemed to make it through the canopy. I was sure from what I heard that everything would be wet again and a fire would be out of the question, but it was not. It was as if it never rained at all.

I was actually thrilled that it was dry, now I could build a fire. The morning temp was in the lower 40’s, and I had great plans for a lone bagel that I brought along. The Lone Bagel I ended up having the same problem with the fire that I had had the night before and I still haven’t gotten over leaving the dry, broken hike stick on the trail. Live and learn I always say. I did manage to get the fire going though, and hey, check out the bagel !

Now with oatmeal, fruit bar and lets not forget the bagel w/ jelly in hand, I sat around and waited for the sun to rise. I knew I could get some good shots of the sun coming up over the lake. Saturday turned out to be a much nicer day than Friday , the skies were clear and I got some great shots of the fall colors on a blue background. I also took some shots of the sun rising through the trees

By 9:00am I was packed and ready to hike out, I had stowed my heavier clothes , but left the sock hat out for it was a bit chilly on the ears.

The wooded area on the west side of Indian lake seemed different from the other wooded areas before, seems like it was more younger trees or just smaller I walked for a while and took a few more photos along the way, the weather was looking much nicer now.

After crossing a concrete bridge the trail was level for a bit but the elevation changes were becoming more common now. I finally reached the Anderson river, and though I was prepared to wade through water, it was low enough that I could cross without removing my boots. From there I crossed Tige creek and headed into a thick forest of pine trees. I love pine trees, love the smell and the sound the wind blowing through the trees. I knew the end of the trail was coming up soon and thought I’d better soak up as much as possible before hiking out.

The rest of the hike seemed to be uphill most of the way , GPS read 656’ of elevation but it felt as if I had started at 50’. I didn’t think I was ever going to stop gaining elevation. The final accent was probably the most challenging for me but I made it to the connecting trail, followed by the parking area.

This was a great hike, the scenery was great, the moderate climbs were stimulating, and most of all the piece of mind I gained from this hike was worth the journey.

I’m sure I will return here again.

- Tim


Full Photo Album

Other Related Info

Two Lakes Official site
Indiana Outfitters Two Lakes Review
Backpackcamp.com Two Lakes Info


Big Color Trailhead Map
Indiana Outfitters Map