Years ago they said that Mountain Lions were endangered in CA because people did not see them very often. Anyway they ended up outlawing hunting mountain lions. Now I have never been mountain lion hunting, and have no desire to do so, but you can only have so many news stories of hikers/runners/back packers getting killed by mountain lions to realize that they actually have an overpopulation problem now. They even had mountain lions stalking school children at recess in schools in the foothills. I spent countless hours in the Sierra Nevada mountains as a youth, in areas were there were documented populations without ever seeing one. I have no doubt that there are mountain lions in the smokies....you are just not going to see them unless/untill they are overpopulated.
I am jealous that you got to see one. Great job!