If you’ve ever walked Napa’s River Trail between Lincoln Avenue and Trancas Street, or the Vine Trail within Yountville, chances are you’ve seen Carol Frommelt and Gail Randol.
These two Napa sisters are regulars on both paths.
But these two ladies aren’t just walking. Holding grabber sticks and plastic bags, they’re picking up trash. And they collect plenty of it every time they head out, leaving a cleaner path behind them.
Carol Frommelt, admittedly the chattier of the two sisters, said she and Gail have been walking and picking refuse off the path for “probably 10 years.”
It got started after Randol stopped playing tennis, claims her sister.
“We had to do some sort of exercise,” said Frommelt. So they started walking together, every other day and at least once on the weekends.
However, “It bothered us so much that it was so trashy (on the trail) that we decided we’d just clean it up.”
“I just remember we used to walk on that path and think it was so dirty so we decided I guess we better clean it if nobody else does,” said Randol.
“When you go every other day, it’s not much” work, said Frommelt. “That way, and we keep it pretty clean.”
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the two meet at 8 a.m. at a parking lot near the trail in Napa. Each lives independently in different parts of Napa.
Both women still drive. “God, yes,” said Frommelt. “I’m not about to give that up.”
From there, they head out, holding their grabbers and plastic bags. On Saturday or Sunday, the sisters walk the trail in Yountville.
Is there much trash to pick up in Yountville?
“Oh yeah, there’s always enough,” said Frommelt. “Then we stop at the Model Bakery train car and have our coffee.”
“There’s always something,” said Randol. “Cigarettes are the bad thing. I sure don’t want to see them go into the river.”
Monday is always the worst day, after the weekend, the ladies said. The Napa path takes about an hour to walk and is 2.4 miles total, they said.
Randol goes up one side, “and I go up the other,” said Frommelt. “And nowadays we’re wearing our masks,” she said. “We don’t like it,” she said, but they do it anyway.
Most people acknowledge the sisters and many say ‘thank you,’ the sisters said.
“We’ve become friends with some people along the way,” said Frommelt. “There are nice people on the trail.”
The oddest thing they’ve picked up is probably underwear, said Frommelt. “It’s amazing the amount of clothing we find. And always high end.”
They’ve also found money – like a $10 bill on the Napa trail. “We might have found a $20 on the Yountville trail,” she recalled. “And we find change occasionally.”
Frommelt said both sisters were both born at what was then St. Helena sanitarium, now Adventist Health St. Helena. Both graduated from Napa High School, married and had their own families.
Frommelt was married to John Frommelt, of Levinson’s Owl Rexall drug stores. Randol was married to Earl Randol, a former Napa Sheriff.
Now widowed, both women are in their 80s.
Randol is the older sibling, said her sister. “She’s 86. Or maybe she’s 87. Anyway she’s up there,” said Frommelt.
“I’m 84,” she said.
“I think I’m doing pretty good for the age I am,” said Randol. Their regular walking and trash pickup habit “keeps us going.”
“It keeps us out of the bars,” she said with a laugh.
When asked if the two had always been close, Frommelt said “Oh my, yes. We do seem to see eye-to-eye on most everything. She’s my best friend.”
Being the older sister when the two were growing up, “I did resent it sometimes when she was always tagging around,” admitted Randol. “She was the typical little sister but now we’re very close.”
You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or email@example.com