Lee Vining put us close to Mono Lake and the June Lakes Scenic Loop. Located just north of Mammoth Lakes, June Lakes is another collection of beautiful mountain lakes. June Mountain is a small ski area (7 lifts) which is affilated with the much larger Mammoth Mountain ski area.
Mono Lake is a very interesting lake, ecologically and socially. Since it has no outlet the water in Mono Lake is very salty, 2 to 3 times higher concentration of salt than the ocean. As a result there are no fish in Mono Lake but that doesn’t mean that it is lifeless. The lake has a massive population of tiny brine shrimp as well as alkaline flies. The combination of the shrimp and flies attracts a wide variety of birds here. Notably, the majority of California seagulls are hatched in Mono Lake. There are also some migratory birds that stop here during their trip from Canada to South America. Notably the Eared Grebe spends a few weeks here to molt and fuel up for their non-stop flight from Mono Lake to Ecuador and Columbia. Interestingly, this bird is very efficient in the water but cannot walk on land. It has to land and take off from water. If it finds itself on land it will die there unless a human finds it and takes it to water.